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Gender inequality in Botswana: decision making positions

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

In part 1, we made a review of equality between men and women in Botswana in both law and practice. We considered such areas as land ownership; non-land property ownership; succession and inheritance; divorce petition; independent travel, access to employment opportunities and benefits in the workplace; and representation in the executive, judiciary, legislature, Ntlo ya Dikgosi, previously the House of Chiefs, and the public service.

In this part, we will consider gender representation in government agencies and directorates; the Botswana Police Service; Botswana Defence Force; local government authorities; parastatals; and organized groups. The basis of the this discussion is the Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs’ 2008 Gender Disaggregated Data on Decision Making Positions as well as the latest developments which are based on anecdotal evidence.

Firstly, government agencies and directorates. In this article, we will consider the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGs); the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC); the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC); the Office of the Ombudsman; and the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM).

At the AGs, pre-2008, women occupied only 42% of decision making positions while males occupied 58%. The lowest record of women was found in the positions of salary grade F2 being 17 % compared to men’s 83 %. Except for the E2 salary grade where women were more in number than men’s 35%, men dominated all other positions by salary grades. Today, this situation has hardly changed despite the fact that the Attorney General is a woman.

Though the Secretary to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is a male, the IEC’s decision making positions are male dominated. With respect to the Commission of seven members, five are males while only two are females. The Management Team too is not gender balanced. It has five males and three females. Of its entire staff compliment of about one hundred and seventy nine employees, ninety six are women while eighty three are males.

According to the Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs’ 2008 Gender Disaggregated Data on Decision Making Positions, pre-2008 the proportion of women in decision making positions at the DCEC, which is today led by a woman, was higher than that of men. Then, the level of Assistant Director, which had four positions, was dominated by women with 80% occupancy. Today, this situation has remained almost the same.

Led by a female, the Office of the Ombudsman is leading by example in the area of gender equality. Of the Management Team of six, four are females (i.e. the Ombudsman, the Executive Director and two Chief Legal Investigators), and two are males (i.e. the Deputy Ombudsman and one Chief Legal Investigator).

DPSM too is leading by example. The current director is a woman. Generally, the situation has not deteriorated from the pre-2008 situation. There is an equal share of decision making positions between women and men with women occupying 51% and men occupying 49% of the decision making positions. Except for the D1 salary grade and F1 grade where men are more in number than the women’s 39%, women dominate other decision making positions by salary grade.

Secondly, the Botswana Police Service (BPS). Though the BPS has always employed men only, about three decades ago the BPS began recruiting women into the service. That notwithstanding, the BPS’s decision making positions are still dominated by men. Just like the pre-2008 situation, 76% of decision making positions are still occupied by men. The BPS has never had a female Commissioner.

Thirdly, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). Until 2008 when twenty two women graduated as officer cadets, the BDF did not recruit women soldiers into the army. Today, about seven years down the line, however, women, obviously because they are still new and few in the army, have not yet found their way into the army’s high decision making positions.

Fourthly, local government authorities. There are more men than women in the local government decision making positions. By 2008, out of thirty positions of Deputy Town Clerk/Council Secretaries in the councils, twenty one were occupied by men while women occupied a paltry nine. Out of twelve positions of District Commissioner, only three were women while nine were men. The situation has not changed for the better.

Fifth, parastatals. These include Bank of Botswana (BoB), University of Botswana (UB), Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA), Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA), Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) and Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA).

Though the Governor of the Bank of Botswana is a woman its decision making bodies and positions are male dominated. The Board has five males and three females. The Executive Committee is worse, with nine males and only four females.

UB is not a centre of excellence when it comes to gender equality. Of its twenty four member Council, which is headed by a male, twenty one are males while only three are females. As if this was not enough contempt on women, only one of the six Principal Officers is a woman.

At BMC, the positions of decision making are dominated by males, with a total of fifteen men being in BMC’s Management compared to only five women. Moreover, the head of BMC is a male. In fact, BMC has never had a female Chief Executive Officer.

BTC’s decision making positions are in the hands of males. Though the Board is headed by a woman, it has more men than women. It has four men and three women. The Executive Management is worse. It is not only headed by a male, but has nine males and only three females.

Though BOBS’s Managing Director is a woman, the Management Team is male dominated. Of the six members, only two are females. The Standards Council is also male dominated, with only five of the twelve members being females.

At LEA, the positions of decision making are dominated by men. The Board of Directors, though led by a male, is somewhat balanced with five males and four females. The Executive Management, however, is male dominated, with twelve males and only five females though one of the two Deputy Chief Executive Officers is a female.  

Though both its chairperson and vice chairperson are males, BAMB’s Board of Directors is gender balanced, with four males and four females. The same is not true, however, with its Management Team of six. Not only is it headed by a male, but women constitute a meagre thirty three percent of the Management Team.

Although the president of BICA is a male, the number of women in BICA’s Council is more than that of men. Out of the nine Council members, five are women with the Vice President and the Treasurer being female.

Sixth, organized groups. Here we will use Business Botswana, formerly BOCCIM, and the two trade union federations, namely Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) as case studies. While Business Botswana’s Management Team of five is led by women, with the Chief Executive Officer and two members being women, the same does not apply for the Council. Of the Council’s thirty three members only eight are women while a staggering twenty five are males.

The situation with the federation trade unions is disheartening. The entire BOFEPUSU’s Central Executive Committee of nine is made up of men. BFTU is better since its National Executive Committee of eleven comprises eight men and three women.

Seventh, political parties. Though they are supposed to demonstrate the importance of gender equality to the government, Botswana’s political parties’ structures are tainted with intolerable levels of gender inequality. For example, in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s top six Central Committee (CC) positions, there is no female. In the whole CC of eighteen, only four are women. Even when making co-options into the CC, the party president did not attempt to balance the gender disparity. Of the five co-opted members, only one is female.

The opposition is no better. In the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) only one member from its top six CC positions is a female. From the CC of nineteen members only five are women. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is worse. Of the leadership structure of eighteen, only two are women. The UDC has no woman in its top six positions.

This aforesaid situation shows that, in Botswana, decision making positions in government, government agencies and directorates, parastatals, local authorities and organized groups are male dominated.

If Botswana is to achieve the ideal of gender equality, such deliberate measures as a quota system or clear policy pronouncements on gender balance need to be considered. However, the Botswana government has to be commended for having women lead such key institutions as the AGs, DCEC, Ombudsman, DPSM, BoB, BOBS and BTC.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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