Summit 2018: Lobatse Town Council

Date: September 25, 2018
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“As a council we are lucky to have council leadership that has taken the empowerment of women to heart” Kutlo Mophalane GFP

The council has shown support to the entrepreneurs from day one. They ensure that the women who were picked were the deserving ones. The council awarded the women for their bravery in sharing their GBV experiences in the ‘I stories’ and they went on to choose some for support to start up their businesses.

Location (urban/rural) Lobatse Town Council is part of southern region and is situated approximately 70km, south of Gaborone. It is defined in the east by sharing the international border with South Africa. The town is surrounded by South East District freehold farms. It has approximate size of 40 km2. Lobatse has excellent linkage by both road and rail with other areas within the country and neighbouring countries like Botswana and Nambia it is also houses big industries like Botswana Meat Commission, sugar packaging company and clay works. It has a population of about 29 007 people in which there are 14862 females and 14145 males

The council is made up of 13 honourable councillors in which seven are males and six females. Even though are more men e than women, the leadership is of women. The Town Mayor and the Deputy Mayor are women. The council has 738 employees in which 391 are female and 347 male. Lobatse Town Council has been a  Centre of Excellence since 2010 when the council was trained and assisted to make plans by Gender lLnks and Botswana Association of Local Authority. The council has been performing very well in their COE work and have managed to scoop first and second prices each year for the Best COE at summits. Their latest score for 2015 was 78%. Their only worry is that they always manage to beat the local councils but at regional level they do not perform as  well.

The council has always been very enthusiastic to work with Gender Links;  from the Town Clerk, the mayor and other political leaders. They have embraced the project and have full ownership and to show their commitment they have assisted some of the women to start up their businesses and even taken others for training. The gender focal person (GFP) together with officers from a counselling organisation always participate in the workshops and input in a positive manner. The women have also had the opportunity to have people from various institutions addressing them on businesses and how they can support them. This was organised by the council. Some women still do follow up counselling with the council social workers. During the regional summit the council prepared for the field visit for the emerging entrepreneurs coming from the SADC countries. They organised a trip for them to see women owned companies that were doing well. They also organised a visit to the Botswana Meat Commission.

The Lobatse council assisted in the identification of the women with the assistance of Bo Mme Isago, which is an organisation that works with women who survived abused and those who are HIV positive.

The council provided venues for all the trainings for free to Gender Links and ensured that at least one staff member was always available to assist when needed. They went further to help in identifying catering companies owned by the local women so that GL could contract them to provide catering and this meant GL also contributed in the economic empowerment of those women. The council continuously meets the women outside of GL trainings and offers them support.

The council is working on growing the businesses of the women to a point where they too can have opportunities to access contracts with the council. To this point those that have been fortunate are ones with catering businesses as the council engages them from time to time. The council has not given them access to land since they do not have the authority to allocate land. The responsibility lies with the land board. There is land scarcity in Lobatse and the women are encouraged to seek land in the nearby villages.

Some women have managed to get a start up in terms of materials needed to start the business since the council does not give money to the women. Some have been supported to open business banking accounts. They have also participated in the women’s expo organised by the Gender Affairs Dept.

The council as already mentioned has organised a stakeholder workshop for the women to help the women find locally available funding opportunities. The council remains a preferred organisation since it offers grants. The GFP has assisted in identifying some private companies to take on board to support the women.

The council has adopted a more supportive attitude towards ending GBV in their locality. They have managed to update their GBV action plan and draw annual activities geared towards addressing GBV issues. On an basis they have a leadership walk supported by the mayor and the town clerk to sensitise the community on GBV. They also have community dialogues where they engage women and men separately and later together on issues of GBV. The District Gender Committee comprises  police, hospitals, NGOs and the private sector; playing a very important role.  The economic empowerment has been made  gender sensitive so that both men and women can equally benefit from the assistance. More supportive attitude towards ending GBV in their locality as a result of the project has been realised.

The involvement of not only the Gender Focal Person but the entire committee has made the project a success and this means that should the GFP get transferred there will be continuity. In future we need to also work closely with the political leadership and engage them more especially in the resource mobilisation for the women.

GL and the council plan to continue working closely for the good of the women. GL will play more of an oversight role with the council taking over the project and supporting the women going further.