“I can do what you can’t do and you can do what I can’t do; together we can do great things.” -Mother Teresa
Dear reader, I gladly welcome the first part of the fourth installment of this series Co-operative 101. Unfortunately this is also the last installment of this series. This series aimed to achieve the following fundamental objectives: i) to celebrate and acknowledge the successes and ideals of the Co-operative movement locally, regionally and internationally, ii) to increase awareness and basic Co-operative knowledge and understanding especially among the Youth and youthful populace and, iii) to stimulate discussion and interest around the Co-operative ideology and philosophy. Based on feedback from readers, I’m glad to say this series has achieved its objectives. Co-operatives 101 (i) simultaneously honored the ‘International Co-operative Day’ and/or the ‘International Day of Co-operatives’.
It also gave a detailed discussion and definition of the Co-operative business model as well as its social and economic relevance. It highlighted that in their nature Co-operatives are people centered: they create employment; they alleviate poverty and unite people; they reduce inequalities and promote social justice; and they are a bridge to peace and stability. Co-operatives 101 (ii) focused on the NGCs (New Generation Co-operatives) phenomenon and the Youth Bulge phenomenon. It fundamentally highlighted the transformations and distinction between traditional Co-operative models and modern-day Co-operatives models. It also highlighted the much needed reality that Co-operatives have evolved over time and remain pivotally relevant in today’s economy. It also encouraged our nation to work towards combining the current Youth bulge phenomenon and NGCs phenomenon for a formidable economic development winning formula.
It also gave practical cases-studies of places where the NGCs and Youth Bulge combination has and continues to register amazing economic development progress. Co-operatives 101 (iii) focused on the Co-operative movement and its amazing potential in resolving our country’s hard-hitting, widespread and mounting economic development hardship such as; un- and underemployment, poverty, socio-economic exclusion and rapid urbanization. It gave a very strong argument positioning the Co-operative businesses as the most viable model in advancing our country’s search for jobs and prosperity.
This installment Co-operatives 101 (iv) is a two part offering. It is an olive branch to all, current and potential, Co-operative movement stakeholders. It addresses these stakeholders as standalone sectors and in some cases collectively. As highlighted in previous installments of this series, Co-operatives are magnificent enterprises. They have amazing multiple and cross cutting socioeconomic benefits. Co-operatives are a significant part of what the economic doctors’ order for our country’s somewhat ailing economy.
They are the bright light at the end of the long dark tunnel. However like all other high impact and cross cutting priority areas, the fruits of Co-operative enterprises can only be witnessed and widespread through a deliberate strategic mainstreaming. In all honestly, MITI (Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry) through DCD (Department of Co-operative Development) has and continues to do a great job in terms of advancing, redefining and repositioning the Co-operative business model in this country. But, more still needs to be done.
Part of the things that still need to be prioritized and executed swiftly is the stakeholder mapping and engagement strategy. Best practices case-studies teach us that countries with flourishing Co-operative industries have successfully and swiftly embarked in this fundamental process. Fortunately Botswana’s current Co-operative transformation strategy has rightfully identified some of the key Co-operative movement stakeholders.
In this installment the author attempts to reach out these stakeholders with hope and intention of encouraging and possibly catalyze the Co-operative mainstreaming process. However, some of the potential stakeholders identified below and in the subsequent offering are not identified in the Co-operative transformation strategy; they were identified via an independent stakeholder mapping exercise conducted separately by this author. In no particular order the stakeholders are as follows:
1. Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) –Youth Desk
Firstly we should appreciate and acknowledge that MYSC has long opened its doors and encouraged establishment of Youth Co-operatives. Through its most lucrative Youth empowerment initiative –YDF (Youth Development Fund) MYSC recognizes and funds Youth Co-operatives. Despite the fact that figures of funded Youth Co-operatives is not easily accessible. This author strongly suspects the number is still a bit minimal.
In my hypothesis and observation the limiting factor in this regard is lack of proper technical training on Co-operatives among the Youth populace. It is therefore fundamental and economic for MYSC and MITI to consider swiftly moving into a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) or strategic partnership that will facilitate skills development and technical guidance on Co-operative establishment, management and collaboration, whilst ensuring increased and sustainable Youth access to enterprise seed funding through the YDF program.
This will ultimately ensure actualization of the aims and objectives of the National Youth Policy and the Co-operative Transformation Strategy simultaneously.
2. Poverty Eradication Programme
Botswana, like other developing countries, is faced with a poverty reduction and/or eradication challenges. In purist of this development agenda Botswana has developed and adopted an aggressive initiative termed ‘Poverty Eradication Programme’. Like every other initiative the Poverty Eradication Programme has and continues to be subjected to subterranean public and political scrutiny, some negative and some positive. Nonetheless over coming poverty is a significant and noble endeavor, every upright and fair-minded compatriot would agree with me.
I have canvassed several parts of our country, in the process I have come across several Poverty Eradication projects, some seemingly thriving, some struggling and some abandoned. Some of the projects that are struggling and/or abounded seem to be lacking satisfactory community buy-in and support.
Remedying this reality therefore needs more community inclusive approaches towards poverty eradication projects. It calls for a more socially and economically relevant business approach within the host communities. It calls for incorporation of the Co-operative model in the Poverty Eradication Programming. It calls for a swift and strategic MoU or strategic partnership in this regard.
3. Gender Affairs Department (GeAD) – Women Economic Empowerment Programme
News of the Women Economic Empowerment programme coordinated via the GeAD (Gender Affairs Department) has reached all of us. Its noble intentions are highly welcome and long overdue.
The fact that this programme encourages applicants to come in groups/collectives makes it an exceptional and progressive initiative. Its intended outputs are guided by National Policy on Gender and Development and in line with our national Co-operative Transformation Strategy. It is therefore vital for the Department of Gender Affairs and Department of Co-operative to swiftly and strategically forge alliance to jointly advance the aspiration of their noble guiding instruments. The alliance is guaranteed to produce fruitful results for the departments and our nation at large.
4 Legislators and Policy Makers
Dear Legislators and policy makers, you have a huge and pivotal role to play in shaping our country’s policy frameworks towards the Promised Land. I understand most of our country’s economic development hardships are centered on job creation, redressing income inequalities and reducing poverty. Lately these economic development indicators seem to be relentless and in some cases escalating. In my view, this is a sign that there is need for alternative policy interventions. It is a clear signal that there is urgent need for more inclusive economic development approaches and programing. The Co-operative movement enthusiasts hope that as you continue to align our policy positions in line with our current and foreseeable economic development hardships please remember and consider the Co-operatives model as one the very few viable avenues in this regard.
5 Human Resource Development Council (HRDC)
Dear HRDC (Human Resource Development Council), the whole country has been following your recent restructuring and merging transition. Honestly, it was one of the most complex restructuring and margining process in our life time by far. Well, the only thing that brought hope and assurance in the mist of it all was the constant reminder that the process was meant to make skills development and knowledge acquisition much better and more focused. Now that the dust seems to have settled and the road ahead looks a bit clear, Co-operative movement enthusiasts would like to make a humble request to office especially the division devoted to curriculum development and appraisal. We would like you to consider incorporation and mainstreaming of Co-operative education in basic education curriculum.
This submission is based on best practice benchmarks and the need for versatile and market ready learners. Co-operative movement enthusiasts sturdily believe with sound Co-operative education graduates of our education system will be well empowered to establish thriving and competitive Co-operatives capable of creating employment and diversifying our mineral based economy.
Allow me to rest my pen at this point; An Olive Branch to Stakeholder (ii) will follow next week. It will specifically speak to the following key stakeholders: Bot50; The Fourth Estate (media); Business Development Centers, Research Institutes and Think Tanks; Village Level institutions; Framers Associations; Funding Institutions and; Motswana ko lwapeng.
*Taziba is a Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development (7189 email@example.com)
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org