Botswana: Olga Ditsie

Date: June 21, 2018
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“Success it is not about the riches or material things one accumulates in life, it is all about having a positive impact in the lives of others.”

Mrs Ditsie is the Chairperson of the Women and AIDS Group in Jwaneng whose main mandate is to educate women on issues of HIV, as women are the ones mostly affected. She is also a Mentor for Gender Based Violence Survivors in Jwaneng using her business experience to motivate and encourage those that are in Business. She is a dedicated member of Women in Business Association and a focal person of the association in Jwaneng.

Mrs Ditsie Olga is trained as an environmental Health Officer, and worked for local Government as a Health Inspector upon completion of her training. In 2002, she quit her job, which was a very bold decision for a young woman of 29 years to start her business on Meat Processing in Maokane Village. In 2004, she contested in Botswana Democratic Party primary election for Councillor seat in Maokane and she was not successful. In 2005, she was appointed by the Minister of Lands and Housing as Board Member for Maokane Sub Land Board. She was then elected by other fellow members as a Chairperson of the board. In 2014, she was appointed as a specially elected Councillor in Jwaneng Town Council by the Minister of Local Government. In Jwaneng Town Council she was elected the Chairperson of Education, Health and Social Services. She was also elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Council Finance Committee and Performance Monitoring Committee the positions she is still holding today.

My personal Mission statement is to have a positive impact in the lives for fellow Women especially those who are disadvantaged in life. Encouraging women to break the boundaries that the society have created them for us, that we belong at home. Helping women to be assertive through organizing events for them such as workshops,meetings, high teas and dinners. In these gatherings, I invite women who have achieved in life to inspire them. There is a Setswana saying that “‘Mma Ngwana o tshwara thipa ka kwa bogaleng”‘ I do also as woman stand and protect the rights of children.

Am a Councillor at Jwaneng Town Council, as a Councillor I have role to play in policy making at council level. Attending all council meetings and taking part in resolutions passed as council committee meetings. As a chairperson of committee, I have to direct the proceedings of the committee meetings and guide the direction of the meeting. Sometimes the male counterparts will try to intimidate me like in one instance a male Councillor asked me if that is how I speak to my husband, when I was calling him to order during a meeting. This was just a perception that women who are in leadership position are not submissive wives or they are bullies. But as a woman am able to wear different hats and perform my duties accordingly.

The challenges we meet at Jwaneng Town Council is the finances, gender activities do not have a vote and it makes it very difficult to carry out these activities. This is why in most cases I use my own funds to carry out gender related activities. The top management of the council is male dominated the Town Clerk and his two deputies as well as the mayor and the deputy and it is not easy for them to appreciate and understand gender related issues because they are not walking in our shoes. Again, in the council out of nine Councillors they are only two women Councillors. This clearly shows that women are not well presented in the council. There is also lack of commitment from the management on gender issues.

My future plan is to continue working with Women organisations in the district and nationally and advocating for women rights. My intention is to form an association that will be based in Jwaneng whose main objective will be to empower women emotionally, financially (by encouraging them to start business) and support those who have been exposed to Gender Based Violence. To educate all stake holders about equality and equity. This will also focus on addressing passion killings by offering free counseling to lovers the association will work hand in hand with Police Officers where cases of threat to kill are reported.