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Women’s political representation at national level in Botswana is the lowest in the SADC region with just seven of 64 (11%) MPs being women. 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 1999 at 18% for national and 23% for local government. There has been just a two percent and three percent increase in representation in national and local government respectively since independence in 1974. This situation indicates that there are both barriers to women entering and staying in political decision making positions. Even when women gain representation, it is important to note that their influence is limited due to the centralization of party control in male-dominated political party leadership and gendered norms and procedures in political institutions.

A situation analysis conducted by Gender Links in 2020 found a range of formal and informal barriers to women’s 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. 

Following on from the situational analysis and findings Gender Links will conduct five cross – generation academies in the country, starting with two locations – Palapye and Francistown in November 2021. The academies will be week-long sessions aimed at enhancing the inclusion and effective participation of women in political decision-making with a strong emphasis on local government.  Download the concept note.