Democracy Works Foundation Botswana successfully launched its training and mentorship support for women in political participation under the Botswana Democracy Works Academy for Women Political Leadership.
The Academy, which seeks to improve women’s knowledge and skills in political participation, leadership and decision making, is one of the interventions under the pioneering Capacity Enhancement for the Political Advancement of Women (CEPAW) project that is made possible with funding from the US Embassy in Botswana.
The launch of the Academy and the training programme took place on the 18th of October 2021, at Ave Maria Pastoral Centre, Gaborone, in a well-attended ceremony with guests comprising the US Embassy, political party leaders and Independent Electoral Commissions (IEC) representatives.
Stephen Manning, the Political Officer, Embassy of the United States of America, Botswana, addressed the cohort, “This Academy is a small effort for a complex problem facing female leaders in politics, not only in Botswana but also globally. We hope that the DWF Academy can influence the inclusivity we want to see in politics. It is a small effort for a complex problem – yet we cannot give up”.
“We, men, need to continue supporting the advancement of women in politics and create a conducive environment through an attitude and cultural shift. What you are doing here is fundamental. You can build a community of women, a network of women politicians that could live on for other generations”, he said.
The launch also saw political party leaders and the Botswana Independent Electoral Commission representatives who highlighted the importance of this initiative and made strong calls to redress the status quo.
Addressing the guests and participants, the Elections Affairs and Field Operations Manager, Mr Dintle Sparkie Rapoo, commended the Democracy Works Foundation initiative.
“We acknowledge that political parties would not succeed without the contribution of women. They put in the work but never rose to essential seats in parliament. We hope that skills development projects like this will help build a strong community and network of women in politics. Mr Koffi Anan said that study after study shows no tool for development that’s more powerful and effective than women’s empowerment. Go ruta basadi, ke go ruta Sechaba.”, he emphasised.
Speaking on behalf of political parties, as a non-partisan ally to women politicians, Mr Moeti Caesar Mohwasa highlighted that there is a problem with the status quo, “Political parties can’t continue politicising women’s rights and representation in decision-making positions. All sources of power still lie with men, and we need a radical change in our policies and culture.”
The first intake of fellows in the Academy comprises 30 diverse profiles of women working in politics, political institutions and those that aspire to a career in politics. The five-day training session was robust and engaging, creating a safe space for knowledge-sharing facilitated by Botswana’s esteemed lecturers and coaches.
Democracy Works Foundation’s Regional Director and Chief of Party, Dr Augustine Magolowondo saluted the fellows, describing them as being a part of a necessary future in Botswana, “Sitting here in the future female Prime Minister, councillors and parliamentarians. One day we can look back and reflect on the impact this programme has had on your political careers. Thank you for taking this opportunity to engage with DWF and play a role in advancing democracy in Botswana under particularly challenging conditions for women.”
Ready to strategise and use the information learnt is Deputy General Secretary for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Women Wing, Bridget Thato Mavuma, “I have run for councillor office twice and have failed both times. The Democracy Works Foundation training has taught me to use my strengths and leverage my team’s strengths. I will be using this skill in my approach to campaigning.”
The course themes cover: Democracy and Citizenship, Women in Political Participation, Leadership and Politics, Women in the electoral process with overall objectives to:
- Situate women political participation within a clear understanding of democracy and citizenship.
- Articulate and motivate for the involvement of women in political decision making within a political party.
- Articulate the importance of greater women’s political participation as candidates in the electoral process and design strategies towards achieving this goal.
The CEPAW programme also includes an initiative to capacitate media practitioners to advocate, influence, and support women in their editorial approach.
The second cohort intake will commence from 1 – 5 November 2021.