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Blazing the trail for women and youth

Blazing the trail for women and youth

She is not yet 30 but Bogolo Kenewendo has already achieved more than most during her short time on the planet.

The 29-year-old recently hit the headlines, taking the whole country by surprise when President Khama announced her as a specially elected Member of Parliament (SEMP) last month.

Prior to this new political juncture in her life, Kenewendo had worked in Ghana for more than a year as a trade economist in the ministry of trade and industry.

Voice reporter, Onneile Setalekgosi, sat down with the proud Motswana, who is being hailed as a flag-bearer for both women and the youth, to better understand her new political path.

Q. One may wonder Ms Bogolo, why the BDP and not the UDC, which is popular among Batswana youths?

I identify with the general principles and policies of my party. I support what they stand for.

I support their projects. I am with the BDP because of the party’s commitment to development.

Q. What was your reaction when you first learnt that President Khama wanted you in parliament?

I had mixed emotions. Shock, humility, excitement! – my mind immediately went into overdrive calculating my next move.

Q. Why were you so excited? Was it something you were actually hoping for?

Not at all. Only people who know they have a chance of being a Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP) hope for it. So I didn’t.

Q. You have made history by becoming the country’s youngest MP, what legacy do you hope to make out of this feat?

History will judge my legacy and I hope it shows that young people can lead.

Q. You are seen as a beacon of hope for the youth and thus expected to ‘fight’ for them in parliament – are you up for that challenge?

Yes I am.

Q. How so? What are you promising them?

I promise to take forward issues brought before parliament and speak confidently for the development of this country based on evidence.

Q. You are a young leader, brilliant and probably too creative – what are you bringing to parliament?

I promise to bring my best self. Thank you by the way!

Q. Have you always been a politician?

No! But I am interested in policy and decision-making.

Q. Why are you joining politics when you had such a lucrative career?

I was called to serve my country in the highest house of policy makers; I think that adds to my ‘lucrative’ career.

Speaking for the people, it is an honour which few people get. So I am humbled by this opportunity.

Q. You have been an active advocate and adviser on socioeconomic issues, especially poverty and inequality, as well as youth and women participation in the labour market. Why women?

Women have a history of being marginalised, not only in Botswana, but around the world.

My biggest dream is to see women given the same opportunities as men. To achieve this we need to ensure women are included in our policies.

Q. What keeps you going and how would you define the experience?

I absolutely love what I do. I love policy and development work because it has a direct impact on people’s lives.

There is just so much fulfilment that comes from knowing that from your tireless work, someone sleeps easy.

Q. Kenewendo, you used to drive economic education through a radio show ‘The Multiplier Effect’ – what happened to the show?

When I moved to Ghana I had to shut it down. It was a really sad decision for me because I had actually built an impressive following.

Q. You were one of two Botswana youth delegates who attended the 64th and 65th Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly. Please share the experience?

This was a mind-blowing experience! We engaged in UN 3rd committee meetings focusing on youth issues.

While I was there I met the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon.

For one of the sessions I was asked to present a statement to the UN SG on the global youth’s expectation on climate change.

Q. Interesting, what is your priority regarding youth issues?

All round wellness and empowerment; inclusion in decision-making, employment, innovation, soft skills development etc.

Q. I bet single men out there wonder this a lot, Is Ms Bogolo taken?

Hehehe… I am not available.