Botswana: Women demand new deal in Constitution

Botswana: Women demand new deal in Constitution

Date: November 10, 2021
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Palapye, 9 November: Women from across the political spectrum are calling on President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi to appoint an equal number of women and men to the Constitutional Review Commission. They are further calling on him to ensure that the process is inclusive and delivers gender equality.

The President announced in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 8 November that he would appoint Commissioners to lead the Constitutional Review, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, by mid-December this year.

Women’s Political Participation (WPP) Cross-Generation Academy participants in the Central District commended the recognition in SONA that “gender equality is pivotal to the development of Botswana.” However they underscored that it is time to “walk the talk of gender equality.”

Meeting under the banner of “local action for gender justice” the women from all five of the main parties (BDP, BPF, BCP, BNF and AP) are serving and aspiring councillors and MPs for the 2024 elections.

With just two elections until 2030, the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the representation of women in the Botswana parliament has increased by just one percentage point from 10% to 11% in 2019.

Only seven women made it to the Botswana Parliament following the general elections held on 23 October 2019.  Only three women were elected from the 57 seats during the elections. The additional four women out of six seats were appointed and confirmed as Specially Elected Members of Parliament (MPS).Women’s political representation at national level in Botswana is the lowest in the SADC region.

At the local government level representation is slightly higher at 18%, but still well below the SADC target of 50%. Rather than progress, the country has seen regression in women’s representation since it peaked in 1999 at 18% for national and 23% for local government.

A situation analysis conducted by Gender Links in 2020 found a range of formal and informal barriers to WPP in Botswana, including culture, custom, religion and tradition, lack of support, socialisation, the electoral system and lack of a quota, the media, access to finance and resources and violence against women in politics.

Globally and in the SADC region it has been shown that the Proportional Representation (PR) system is far more conducive to women’s political participation than the FPTP system. Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between the existence of Temporary Special Measures (TSM) to increase women’s political participation and their representation in parliament and local government. Botswana has a FPTP system and no TSM, leaving it at the bottom of the SADC league.

The training included a case study from neighbouring Zimbabwe which has a FPTP system at national and local level. However the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution added 30% seats for women only distributed among parties on a PR basis. Following a concerted campaign led by the Zimbabwe Women in Local Government Forum with the support of Gender Links, this provision has been extended to the local level for the 2023 elections in that country.

The Constitution Review provides a unique opportunity to find systemic solutions to WPP in Botswana, drawing on best practise in the region. Women meeting in Palapye are calling for the new Constitution to:

  • Change of the electoral system in Botswana, to Mixed Member Representation, drawing on the advantages of both the FPTP and PR system.
  • Provide for a 50% candidate quota regardless of the electoral system.
  • Extensive advocacy and awareness on the importance of women’s equal and effective participation in politics, especially at the local level, the coalface of service delivery.
  • Capacity building for women, especially young women, to run for political office and become effective agents of change.
  • Fund political parties

GL is conducting five cross – generation academies in the country, starting with two locations – Palapye and Francistown in November 2021. The academies are week-long sessions covering electoral systems, quotas, electoral processes, election funding, media, communication and campaign skills.

The training is being offered by International Idea, in partnership with Gender Links, funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Ethiopia as part of the Enhancing the Inclusion of Women in Political Participation in Africa. The project spans eight African countries: Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

For more information on gender and elections in Botswana, please click here.

For interviews contact Chigedze Chinyepi +267 72 269 357 on or email




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