Woman where art thou?

Kabelo Dipholo
CONCERNED: Mmolawa

Emang Basadi questions UDC’s commitment to women empowerment

President of Emang Basadi, Theresa Mmolawa, has come out guns blazing accusing political parties of blatantly disregarding their own constitutions when it comes to issues of women empowerment.

In an interview with The Voice on Tuesday, Mmolawa gave an example of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition negotiators who were all men.

The historic announcement of a successful conclusion of coalition talks last month was signed by Dr Patrick Molutsi (BNF), Prof Phillip Bulawa (BPP), Wynter Mmolotsi (AP), Major General Pius Mokgware (AP), Lazarus Lekgoanyana (BPF) and Ford Moiteela (BPF).

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“It’s a boys club. I was taken aback and shocked when I saw this. This gender disparity is very insensitive of our leaders,” said Mmolawa.

The Emang Basadi President noted a lot has been said about the importance of having gender balance in organisations, especially where critical decisions are taken.

“I wonder if our male counterparts in the UDC didn’t realize there was a huge anomaly as they met and discussed issues of party coalition and women representation was zero. How insensitive are our men in politics? You can’t make decisions about everyday life issues affecting women without their input,” she charged.

Mmolawa, who ran for the Francistown East Parliamentary seat in 2019 under the Alliance for Progressives (AP) ticket, feels this shows how far behind the country is with issues of gender balance.

“This is not just about the UDC, it also includes the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and other opposition parties. The only way women make it to parties’ National Executive Committees (NEC) is through the positions they hold at Women’s League, otherwise women would be nowhere near the decision making table,” Mmolawa told The Voice.

She said this dominance by men is also visible at branch and regional level of all parties.

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“We expect political leaders to take gender inclusiveness matters seriously, not to take critical decisions of even allocating constituencies leaving out women. They expect us to be actors and not decision makers, this is wrong in all respects and it shows patriarchal dominance endorsed; it is disturbing,” she concluded grimly.

Reached for comment, UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa confirmed they have noted the concerns raised by Emang Basadi and take such issues very seriously.

He added they remain open for engagement with the NGO to address the issues.

“Regrettably, because of our regard for Emang Basadi, we will not have a public engagement, response or a spat with them. Their commitment to raising and mainstreaming women issues is highly appreciated and acknowledged,” said Mohwasa.

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