Lentswe Mosanaka – Botswana

Lentswe Mosanaka – Botswana


Date: June 30, 2015
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I first became a councilor in 2004, which marked the beginning of my political career. Now, I’m working in the Southern District Council, with a staff of 400 people. In my line of work, it has really benefited me to venture out and work with other organizations, like NGOs, churches, and grassroots people. When we work together, we can address the many problems that exist in our communities. People need to be educated, approached, advised. We need to work together to do this.

Gender Based Violence is a huge problem in our communities. When I was a councilor, the issue came to my attention, because many people were calling me, saying my husband beat me, some child has been raped, some woman was beaten so badly she had to go to hospital. I realized that I needed to get myself more involved, not just on individual cases, but on learning to understand the problem, and see how to work with these people.

Learning about GBV has helped me so much. Not only my political career and community, but also my family, and relatives. I’m getting a lot of support from the national government, where there is a lot of concern at the ministerial level. We are all working together on this.

We have a long way to go to bring gender equality to our country. I see our political parties are not doing enough; representation is poor. If a constituency doesn’t have a woman candidate, it worries me. I know we have to do something. But we also have to think about the situation carefully, because if women in a community are not well empowered, they don’t have financial resources, they are not supporting each other, than targeting elections won’t be a success. We need to start at the beginning, to make sure women are empowered in every aspect of life.

We are starting with programmes on poverty eradication, which target women. Economically empowering women is how change will start. We go out to rural areas, house by house, and figure out what people need. If they want a backyard garden, to plant and sell vegetables, we give it to them. With technical support, and access to land. If someone wants to raise chickens, we help teach them, and give them capital. We understand that women can’t always get ahead themselves, without support, so we are trying to provide that support.

We have another program that is supporting women who find themselves in difficult situations. For example, they are going through a divorce, and find their cattle is being taken, and they are left with children in a poor state. We start with a basket of goods, with food, and a financial subsidy each month. This helps allocate their bad situation. But we also understand that this is not enough to help them in the long term, and bring them out of poverty. So, we really look at individual situations, assess, and see what is needed for them to be able to move ahead. Sometimes it is furthering education. Sometimes it is giving them information about where they can go in their communities for support.

As a politician, I have initiated a lot of things. The problem is, you think of solutions, and put them in place, and as soon as things are moving, you become aware of other issues. There is so much to do. We are really working with many people. Sometimes, we work with area businesses, to help vulnerable people in the community. Sometimes, we are linking young people up with career counseling and guidance, so they can see opportunities that, with a certain background, they might not have known about.

I know that if we work together, we will see an end to GBV. We should not be seeing people treating each other in such a way. But I know, with the work we have done in Botswana, that we are making progress. It is my job to work on gender. I am gender linked now! I’m a spokesperson, so there is a lot I can do in the community. I could tell so many stories about individual people who have been helped by our district’s work on gender. We just need it to grow and grow.

 


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