Skip to main content
×
Home

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

Abstract:
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: 26 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 219 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.