Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Update on the Women's Movement in Botswana: Have Women Stopped Talking?

  • Gretchen Bauer
Abstract:

Across Africa in the early twenty-first century, autonomous women's movements have transformed the political landscape. With their support, African women are lobbying for constitutional reforms, entering political office in unprecedented numbers, and initiating legislation to expand women's rights. African women's movements have been emboldened by changes in international and regional norms concerning women's rights and representation, a new availability of resources to enhance women's status, and in many places, an end to conflict. In Botswana, the 1980s and 1990s were a period of heightened women's mobilization. Led by the women's organization Emang Basadi, the women's movement accomplished many significant victories, including winning a landmark citizenship case, prompting a comprehensive review of laws to identify instances of gender discrimination, issuing the first women's manifesto in Africa, and organizing workshops for political parties and women candidates. Some scholars have suggested that Emang Basadi's work was responsible not just for increasing women's representation in parliament, but also for broadening democracy in Botswana. Since 2010, however, a once vibrant women's movement has gone quiet. This article seeks to understand this development and to explore how the movement might be revitalized. The article concludes by drawing comparisons with other women's movements in the region and suggesting that the women's movement in Botswana, like others in the region, may be, in the words of one scholar, “in abeyance.”

Résumé:

À travers l'Afrique du début du vingt-et-unième siècle, les mouvements féministes autonomes ont transformé la scène politique. Grâce à leur soutien, les femmes africaines font du lobbying pour obtenir des réformes constitutionnelles. Elles s'engagent en nombres records dans les milieux politiques et amorcent des prqjets de législation pour les droits des femmes. Les mouvements féministes africains ont été encouragés par l'évolution des normes internationales et régionales concernant les droits et la représentation des femmes, ainsi qu'une accessibilité nouvelle des ressources pour améliorer le statut des femmes et, dans, plusieurs régions, pour mettre fin aux conflits. Au Botswana, les années 80 et 90 furent une période d'accentuation de la mobilisation des femmes. Mené par l'organisation féministe Emang Basadi, le mouvement a obtenu plusieurs victoires importantes, dont un procès décisif sur un cas de citoyenneté entraînant une révision complète des lois afin d'identifier des cas de discrimination sexiste. Il en a résulté le premier manifeste féministe d'Afrique, et des ateliers de sensibilisation pour les partis politiques et les candidates féminines. Certains universitaires ont indiqué que les efforts de Emang Basadi avaient conduit non seulement à l'augmentation de la représentation féminine au Parlement, mais également à un élargissement de la démocratie au Botswana. Depuis 2010 en revanche, le mouvement féministe auparavant si actif est devenu silencieux. Get essai cherche à comprendre cette évolution, et à explorer les moyens de revitaliser ce mouvement. L'argument se conclut par des comparaisons avec d'autres mouvements féministes de la région, et la suggestion que le mouvement féministe au Botswana, comme d'autres dans la région, pourrait être, selon les mots d'un spécialiste, “en suspens.”

Copyright
References
Hide All

Personal Interviews and Communications

Alexander, Elsie. Lecturer, University of Botswana; former officer of WODPLAC. Gaborone, March 13, 2009.
Chigedze, Chinyepi. BOCONGO Gender Sector coordinator. Gaborone, June 19, 2009.
Chimela, Violet. BNF National Elections board chair. Gaborone, May 29, 2009.
Gaboeletswe, Kealebogo. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung program officer. Gaborone, February 6, 2009.
Kgosipula, Mokgweetsi. BNF Assistant Secretary General. Gaborone, May 29, 2009.
Kokorwe, Gladys. Member of Parliament, Minister of Youth and Sport. Gaborone, March 3, 2009.
Letsie, Lebohang. Senior lecturer, University of Botswana; founding member of Emang Basadi; former officer of WODPLAC. Gaborone, June 4, 2009.
Masire, Quett. Former president of Botswana. Gaborone, May 26, 2009.
Modisaotsile, Segametsi, Emang Basadi Political Education Project coordinator. Gaborone, May 18, 2009.
Mohwasa, Moeti. BNF Information and Publicity Secretary. Forwarded e-mail communication from Amy Poteete, December 4, 2010.
Molema, Leloba. Senior lecturer, University of Botswana; founding member of Emang Basadi. Gaborone, March 9, 2009.
Molokomme, Athaliah. Attorney General; founding member of Emang Basadi. Gaborone, May 27, 2009.
Mooki, Maungo. Gender activist. Gaborone, June 16, 2009; e-mail communication, July 22, 2009.
Seboko, Kgosigadi Mosadi. Balete Paramount Ghief. Ramotswa, June 15, 2009.
Sekgororoane, Rhoda. Former vice president, BGWP. Gabarone, May 15, 2009.
Selolwane, Onalenna. Senior lecturer, University of Botswana; founding member of Emang Basadi. Gaborone, March 11, 2009; e-mail communication, November 26, 2010.
Tshireletso, Botlogile. Member of Parliament, Gaborone, April 8, 2009.
Wareus, Tshepo Chape. BCWP publicity secretary, Gaborone, April 11, 2009.

Books and Periodicals

Banda, Fareda. 2006. “Women, Law and Human Rights in Southern Africa.” Journal of Southern African Studies 32 (1): 1327.
Barei, Geoffrey. 2008. “Parliament.” In Transparency, Accountability and Corruption in Botswana, edited by Maundeni, Zibani, 1125. Gaborone: Democracy Research Project and Cape Town: IDASA.
Bauer, Gretchen. 2010. “‘Cows Will Lead the Herd into a Precipice’: Where Are the Women MPs in Botswana?Botswana Notes and Records 42: 5670.
Botlhale, Emmanuel. 2011. “Gender-Responsive Budgeting: The Case for Botswana.” Development Southern Africa 28 (1): 6174.
Botswana Parliament, Research, Information and Public Relations Division. 2002. The Road to Botswana Parliament: Botswana General Elections, 1965–1999. Gaborone: Government of Botswana.
Carroll, Terrance, and Carroll, Barbara Wake. 2004. “The Rapid Emergence of Civil Society in Botswana.” Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 42 (3): 333–55.
Chiepe, G. K. T. 1993. “Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs.” In Changing Roles of Women in Botswana, edited by Procek, Eva, 16. Gaborone: The Botswana Society.
Childs, Sarah. 2006. “Should Feminists Give Up on Critical Mass? A Contingent Yes.” Politics and Gender 2 (4): 522–31.
Creevey, Lucy. 2006. “Senegal: Contending with Religious Constraints.” In Women in African Parliaments, edited by Bauer, Gretchen and Britton, Hannah, 151–69. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.
Daily News. 2009. “NGOs Suffer Middle Income Status Blues.” April 6.
Dow, Unity. 1995. The Citizenship Case. Gaborone: Lentswe La Lesedi.
Dow, Unity. 2001. “How the Global Informs the Local: The Botswana Citizenship Case.” Health Care for Women International 22 (4): 319–32.
Dzimbiri, L. B., and Molefe, K.. 2007. “An Assessment of Women in Decision Making Positions in Botswana 1996–2006.” Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies 21 (1): 157–74.
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa. 2006. Botswana Electoral System Reform Conference Report, www.eisa.org.za.
Basadi, Emang. 1994. The Women's Manifesto: A Summary of Botswana Women's Issues and Demands. Gaborone: Emang Basadi Women's Association.
Basadi, Emang. 1999a. Emang Basadi's Political Education Project: A Strategy That Works. Gaborone: Lentswe La Lesedi.
Basadi, Emang. 1999b. The Women's Manifesto. Gaborone: Emang Basadi Women's Association.
Essof, Shereen. 2009. “She-murenga: Challenges, Opportunities and Setbacks of the Women's Movement in Zimbabwe.” Feminist Africa 13. www.feministafrica.org.
Fallon, Kathleen. 2003. “Transforming Women's Citizenship Rights within an Emerging Democratic State: The Case of Ghana.” Gender and Society 17 (4): 525–43.
Fallon, Kathleen. 2008. Democracy and the Rise of Women's Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Geisler, Gisela. 2004. Women and the Remaking of Politics in Southern Africa: Renegotiating Autonomy, Incorporation and Representation. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.
Geisler, Gisela. 2006. “‘A Second Liberation’: Lobbying for Women's Political Representation in Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.” Journal of Southern African Studies 32 (1): 6984.
Good, Kenneth. 2010. “The Presidency of General Ian Khama: The Militarization of the Botswana ‘Miracle.’” African Affairs 109 (435): 315–24.
Good, Kenneth, and Taylor, Ian. 2008. “Botswana: A Minimalist Democracy.” Democratization 15 (4): 750–65.
Gossett, Charles, and Lotshwao, KebapeLse. 2009. “Report on the General Election 1965 and the Local Government Election 1966.” Botswana Notes and Records 41: 4763.
Gouws, Amanda. 2008. “Obstacles for Women in Leadership Positions: The Case of South Africa.” Signs 34 (1): 2127.
Hassim, Shireen. 2005. “Voices, Hierarchies and Spaces: Reconfiguring the Women's Movement in Democratic South Africa.” Polilikon 32 (2): 175–93.
Hassim, Shireen. 2006. Women's Organizations and Democracy in South Africa: Contesting Authority. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Hassim, Shireen. 2009. “Terms of Engagement: the South African Challenge.” Feminist Africa 13. www.feministafrica.org.
Hoon, Parakh. 2010. “Neopatrimonial yet Democratic? Botswana's Exceptionality and Prospects for Political Development.” Paper presented to the African Studies Association annual meeting, San Francisco.
Lekorwe, Mogopodi. 2005. “Organisation of Political Parties.” In 40 Years of Democracy in Botswana 1965–2005, edited by Maundeni, Zibani, 122–46. Gaborone: Mmegi Publishing House.
Leslie, Agnes Ngoma. 2006. Social Movements and Democracy in Africa: The Impact of Women's Struggle for Equal Rights in Botswana. New York: Routledge.
Livingston, Julie. 2005. Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Machangana, Keboitse. 1999. “Emang Basadi: Botswana.” In Women in Politics and Decision, Making in SADC: Beyond 30 Percent in 2005. Gaborone: SADC Gender Unit.
Madisa, Motsei. 1990. “Women and Politics: Few Women Participate in the Political Process.” Southern African Political and Economic Monthly 3 (7): 2223.
Maipose, Gervase, Somolekae, Gloria, and Johnston, Timothy. 1997. “Effective Aid Management: The Case of Botswana.” In Foreign Aid in Africa: Learning from Country Experiences, edited by Carlsson, Jerker, Somolekae, Gloria, and van de Walle, Nicolas, 1635. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.
Maundeni, Zibani. 2004. Civil Society, Politics and the Slate in Botswana. Gaborone: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
Maundeni, Zibani. 2005. “Succession to High Office: Tswana Culture and Modern Botswana Politics.” In 40 Years of Democracy in Botswana 1965–2005, edited by Maundeni, Zibani, 8093. Gaborone: Mmegi Publishing House.
Mmegi Online. 2008. “The Parliament of Botswana: A Rubber-Stamp Parliament?” November 21. www.mmegi.bw.
Mmegi Online. 2009a. “Where are Botswana's Heroes?” January 22.
Mmegi Online. 2009b. “Don't Touch the Constitution–Dikgosi.” July 9.
Mmegi Online. 2009c. “Unsigned SADC Gender Protocol Worries Councillors.” July 16.
Mmegi Online. 2010. “Doing More with Less in the Fight against HIV/AIDS.” December 2.
Mhlanga, Pamela, Tolmay, Susan, and Morna, Colleen Lowe, eds. 2009. At the Coalface: Gender and Local Government in Botswana. Johannesburg: Gender Links.
Mogalakwe, Monageng. 2006. “From Pre-Colony to Post-Colony: Continuities and Discontinuities in Political Power Relations and Governance in Botswana.” Journal of African Elections 5 (2): 518.
Mokomane, Zitha. 2008. “Civil Society.” In Transparency, Accountability and Corruption in Botswana, edited by Maundeni, Zibani, 157–62. Gaborone: Democracy Research Project.
Molokomme, Athaliah. 1991. “Emang Basadi.” Signs 16 (4): 846.
Molokomme, Athaliah. 1993. “The Legal Situation of Women in Botswana.” In Changing Roles of Women in Botswana, edited by Procek, Eva, 730. Gaborone: The Botswana Society.
Molomo, Mpho 1998. “The Role and Responsibilities of Members of Parliament in Facilitating Good Governance and Democracy.” In Botswana Politics and Society, edited by Edge, Wayne and Lekorwe, Mogopodi, 199212. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.
Molomo, Mpho. 2000. “Democracy under Siege: The Presidency and Executive Powers in Botswana.” Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies 14 (1): 95108.
Molomo, Mpho. 2005. “Electoral Systems and Democracy in Botswana.” In 40 Years of Democracy in Botswana, 1965–2005, edited by Maundeni, Zibani, 2949. Gaborone: Mmegi Publishing House.
Molutsi, Patrick. 1998. “Elections and Electoral Experience in Botswana.” In Botswana Politics and Society, edited by Edge, Wayne and Lekorwe, Mogopodi, 363–77. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.
Mookodi, R. 1972. “Women's Life in Botswana.” Canadian Journal of African Studies 6 (2): 357–58.
Mosojane, Margaret. 1993. “Women and Politics.” In Changing Roles of Women in Botswana, edited by Procek, Eva, 3944. Gaborone: The Botswana Society.
Novicki, Margaret. 1985. “GKT Chiepe, Interview: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Botswana.” Africa Report, March–April.
Ngwenya, Barbara. 2002. “Configurations of Women Centered Organisations in Contemporary Botswana.” Botswana Notes and Records 34: 91106.
Ntseane, Dolly. 2005. “Women in Party Politics.” In 40 Years of Democracy in Botswana, 1965–2005, edited by Maundeni, Zibani, 222–37. Gaborone: Mmegi Publishing House.
Otlhogile, Bojosi. 1998. “Constitutional Development in Botswana.” In Botswana Politics and Society, edited by Edge, Wayne and Lekorwe, Mogopogi, 153–61. South Africa: Van Schaik Publishers.
Parsons, Neil, Henderson, Willie, and Tlou, Thomas. 1995. Seretse Khama, 1921–1980. Gaborone: The Botswana Society.
Paxton, Pamela, Hughes, Melanie, and Green, Jennifer. 2006. “The International Women's Movement and Women's Political Representation, 1893–2003.” American Sociological Review 71: 898920.
Pfotenhauer, Linda. 1991. “An Interview with Unity Dow.” Botswana Notes and Records 23: 101–5.
Ranchod-Nilsson, Sita. 2006. “Gender Politics and the Pendulum of Political and Social Transformation in Zimbabwe.” Journal of Southern African Studies 32 (1): 4967.
Ranchod-Nilsson, Sita. 2008. “Gender Politics and Gender Backlash in Zimbabwe.” Politics and Gender 4 (4): 642–52.
Saleshando, Dumelang. 2010. “The State of the Nation—A Response (part 2).” Mmegi Online, December 3. www.mmegi.bw.
Sawer, Marian. 2010. “Premature Obituaries: How Can We Tell if the Women's Movement Is Over?Politics and Gender 6 (4): 602–9.
Scribner, Druscilla, and Lambert, Priscilla. 2010. “Constitutionalizing Difference: A Case Study Analysis of Gender Provisions in Botswana and South Africa.” Politics and Gender 6 (1): 3762.
Sebudubudu, David, and Hwedie, Bertha Osei. 2005. “Democratic Consolidation in SADC: Botswana's 2004 Election.” EISA Research Report. No. 11. Johannesburg: EISA, www.eisa.org.za.
Selolwane, Onalenna. 1998. “Equality of Citizenship and the Gendering of Democracy in Botswana.” In Botswana Politics and Society, edited by Edge, Wayne and Lekorwe, Mogopodi. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.
Selolwane, Onalenna. 2000. “Civil Society, Citizenship and Women's Rights in Botswana.” In International Perspectives on Gender and Democratization, edited by Rai, Shirin, 8399. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Selolwane, Onalenna. 2004. “The Emang Basadi Women's Association.” Feminist Africa 3. www.feministafrica.org.
Selolwane, Onalenna. 2006. “Gendered Spaces in Party Politics in Southern Africa: Progress and Regress since Beijing 1995.” UNRISD Occasional Paper 13. Geneva: UNRISD.
Somolekae, Gloria. 2000. “Widening the Frontiers of Democracy: Towards a Transformative Agenda in Botswana Politics.” Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies 14 (1): 7684.
Sunday Standard. 2009. “Nasha Chides Deviating Khama on Women Empowerment.” October 25.
Sunday Standard. 2010. “Botswana MPs Receive a Cold Reception at the Pan African Parliament.” April 28.
Taylor, Verta. 1989. “Social Movement Continuity: The Women's Movement in Abeyance.” American Sociological Review 54 (5): 761–75.
Tripp, Aili Mari, et al. 2009. African Women's Movements: Changing Political Landscapes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS). 2009. AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2009. Geneva: UNAIDS. www.unaids.org.
Van Allen, Judith. 2001. “Women's Rights Movements as a Measure of African Democracy.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 36 (1): 3963.
Van Allen, Judith. 2007. “Feminism and Social Democracy in Botswana.” Socialism and Democracy 21 (3): 97124.
Wass, Peter. “Initiatives to Promote Civil Society in Botswana in the 1960s: A Personal Memoir.” Botswana Notes and Records 36: 7481.
Waylen, Georgina. 2007. “Women's Mobilization and Gender Outcomes in Transitions to Democracy: The Case of South Africa.” Comparative Political Studies 40 (5): 521–46.
Women's Affairs Department. 1998. “Report on a Review of All Laws Affecting the Status of Women in Botswana.” Gaborone: Government of Botswana.
Women's Affairs Department. 2003. “Botswana's Response to the Questionnaire to Government on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Session of the General Assembly” (2000). www.un.org.
Women's Affairs Department. 2005. “Amended Laws Affecting the Rights of Women in Botswana.” Gaborone: Government of Botswana.
Zaffiro, James. 1993. “African Legislatures and Foreign Policy-Making: The Botswana Case.” Botswana Notes and Records 25: 3958.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 32 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 343 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th April 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.