Is the quota system working?

Francinah Baaitse Mmana
  • that is the question women in politics are grappling with 

Despite the use of affirmative action through the quota system to increase women participation, politics remains one of the most male dominated careers.

Women offer diverse interests and perspectives in decision making process but they remain overlooked and under-represented both at council and parliamentary level.

To find out whether the quota system is working for women or not, FRANCINAH BAAITSE speaks to different women in Botswana political land scape including Daisy Bathusi, of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Mmaotho Segotso of Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Nametso Carr of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) on whether or not they believe women political quotas can improve or worsen the quality of representation either at parliament or local government level.

Daisy Bathusi (former BCP women’s league chairperson)

Quotas are affirmative action initiatives, which are aimed at levelling the playing field as over the years women have been disenfranchised through patriarchal believes and cultural socialisation.

It’s not a favour but to correct mistakes of the past. They are usually referred to as temporary special measures as they are indeed temporary.

Special measures are necessary and very much needed for Botswana to increase the number of women in political decision making roles.

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Quotas don’t necessarily mean that internal vetting processes are circumvented, they will still apply.

Additionally there are control measures that can be put in place. However the same argument can be said about men who have ascended into leadership purely on the basis of them being male, as a result of patriarchy and societal socialisation , we have economic empowerment of women following the same principle that women have been disenfranchised historically, why can’t we accept the same principle in politics.

Is the quota system working? that is the question women in politics are grappling with polically speaking

Mmaotho Segotso (AP publicity secretary)

You need to take cognisant of what is already obtaining on the ground, that is your point of departure; what is stopping women from advancing in politics.

Women are facing many challenges besides that they are home keepers, for instance let’s say I am a married woman and I want to go into politics, I have children, a husband and a house and there is an extended family and a business sometimes, for me to go out there into the freedom square I have to make sure that all my family responsibilities have been taken care of.

A woman being a homemaker is pulled back by these things among others. If my husband is into politics, he can go out without having to worry much about these.

Men can get away with these things while women have to constantly put meals on the table.

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And there is patriarchy which says, “ga di ke di etelelwa ke manamagadi pele,” (women cannot lead the pack), so these chains, shackles and gag women, so when women want to go into politics they have to deal with these first.

If you are trying to date, someone will say, “not a woman politician,” so we have to deal with perceptions from the community as well. So quotas are saying we are cognisant of what is happening on the ground and we want to address these, we know there are problems and let’s create an enabling environment.

So it is an avalanche of challenges that women have to deal with. A woman cannot join politics and be elevated to power in a short period of time, we have to wait for many years.

Only in the BDP can some women reach immediate power positions because of provisions such as special nominations to parliament and councils of presidential appointments otherwise the rest has to toil and work for years, only to be overtaken by men.

Is the quota system working? that is the question women in politics are grappling with polically speaking

Nametso Carr- (Former BDP Women’s wing deputy secretary general)

Quotas are there but are not being utilised. There are as many capable women out there who can take on same leadership positions held by men and even do better.

All we need is more public education for our society to change their mindset and understand the importance of levelling the political playing field.

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Quotas are exist but they are not working for us as a country because there are still people who prefer voting for men over women. As women we are not supporting other women.

We vote according to political party alignment and that is not helping us achieve a gender balanced leadership that we need and hoping for as a nation, we are still far from it.

As women we serve and sacrifice a lot, but when it comes to recognition, it is the men who are making progress.

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