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The 2030 Agenda

On Wednesday 14th March, just a week after Botswana and the rest of the world celebrated Internationals Women’s Day; reflective conversations on the need to do more in mobilizing the participation of women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers were deliberated as they so often do in conferences, meetings and many other dialogue forums.

In a room filled with representatives from academia as well as the private and public sector, these conversations took place at the UNESCO Regional Mission to Botswana (Social & Human Sciences) workshop on bioethics and ethics. The objective of the workshop was to gain a thorough understanding of the state of the art of Research, Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as ethics and bioethics in Botswana related to the UNESCO’s Natural, Human and Social Sciences Programmes. Throughout the deliberations, inclusion arose as a critical success factor for realization of the full potential of women in the socio-economic development process.


It was made clear that inclusion was a necessary intervention to unblock the current constraints and stagnation of women and girl participation in STEM. The discussions highlighted the prevailing scenario of women and girl child exclusion as the main reason the many programmes and initiatives at an international, regional and national levels fail to achieve their optimal objectives. The evidence base to support investment in women and the girl child provides an opportunity for inclusion and the achievement of the goals set forth in many instruments such as the Sustainable Development Goals.


With women constituting the world’s largest emerging market concerted efforts must be made to address the current constraints and close the gender gap with necessary interventions that will allow women equal access and play in socio-economic development and advancement of the STEM frontiers.  


While participants lamented that the global commemoration of the International Women’s Day seemingly came and went unnoticed by a significant part of the local population, especially to the primary audience that can effect meaningful change more rapidly, they recognized and appreciated the advancement made in the institutional and regulatory framework to enable women inclusion and gender parity.  


However, for greater impact, the audience for the inclusion message goes beyond just women and the political leadership, it must encompass societal leaders from a cultural perspective, girls, boys, young men and women as well as leaders within professional and corporate settings.


One of the critical questions asked, is with all the progress that has been achieved through formal undertakings of preparing the ground and creating a climate for inclusion; are stakeholders in all shapes and forms consciously responsive to these undertakings? Evidence on the ground suggests this is not the case. A probe of the evidence reveals that one of the intangible lack of response that has managed to prevail within Botswana and many other societies is what is referred to as the unconscious bias.

 

Although seemingly insignificant, unconscious bias has had a profound impact in denying women tactical and strategic say in social, political and economic activities, especially in STEM. The testament to this is seen on a daily basis in all male panels in boardrooms, conferences and many other fora we attend.


Revisiting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is not a single one that we can point out and not apportion its potential success to Science, Technology or Innovation. Reiterating the role of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Peggy Oti-Boateng, the Senior Programme Specialist for Science & Technology in the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa stated that, “It is not by coincidence that SDG 9 of Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure exists”.

 

With predictions from the World Economic Forum that the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186, McKinsey Global Institute estimating that if female employment rates matched those of men, global annual GDP could rise by 26 percent by 2025 and in cognizance of the significance of Science, Technology and Innovation in achieving the SDG’s, inclusion must not only be an area of commitment within institutional and national frameworks but as well as in the application of respective roles and responsibilities in which we all serve within social, cultural and more importantly economical settings.


Acknowledging these challenges is the first step towards ensuring that as a global community we can close the gender gap earlier than 2186. A key to the success of this initiative is the partnerships that have been forged. An example of these is the UNESCO-L'OREAL International Fellowships Programme for Young Women in Life Sciences which began 19 years ago. One of the programmes run under this initiative is The UNESCO-L’Oréal International Fellowships granted annually to 15 promising young women scientists, at the doctoral or post-doctoral level. Since its inception in 2000 there has never been entries by a Motswana woman as shared by Dr Oti-Boateng.


It is my hope that through these partnerships and efforts to overcome unconscious bias, we will see the gender gap closed more quickly and Batswana women advance in STEM. To find out more on the UNESCO-L'OREAL International Fellowships Programme for women, please visit   http://www.forwomeninscience.com/en/fellowships.


Tirelo Ramasedi is with the Botswana Innovation Hub

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WeekendLife

200,000 Members of International Church Hold Virtual Prayer Service for Covid-19

22nd September 2020
200,000

After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.

On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.

The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.

Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.

The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.

At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.

“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”

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WeekendLife

AFRIMMA nominates Vee Mampeezy

22nd September 2020
Vee-Mampeezy

The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.

The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.

The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.

However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.

Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.

Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.

“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.

“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”

Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.

Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.

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WeekendLife

Miss Earth Botswana catwalks to save the environment

22nd September 2020
MISS EARTH

Miss Earth Botswana is an annual local environmental-themed beauty pageant competition promoting environmental awarenessconservation and social responsibility. The reigning Queen dedicated her year to promoting specific projects and often addressing issues concerning the environment.

The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.

Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.

Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)

Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.

“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”

For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”

“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.

Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.

“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.

When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.

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