Last Friday the Grand Palm in Gaborone hosted women from all walks of life to mark the day black women marched on Union Buildings in Pretoria, then the headquarters of apartheid South Africa, to protest extension of the dompas to women – and therefore the overburden of restricted movement on people already panting for breath under gender discrimination – on August 9, 1956
August 9 marks National Women’s Day when the world celebrates the successes and triumphs of women and highlights gender inequality and abuse of women. In commemoration of this day, the Peermont Grand Palm Hotel hosted women from all walks of life to celebrate the strengths of African women and recognise the role that they play in society.
The General Manager of the Grand Palm, Keletso Bogatsu, said the occasion is also held to assure every woman that they are beautiful. “The African woman has come a long way in their uniqueness and diversity with which they are changing the status quo,” she noted. “In the past it was unheard of, and even taboo in some cultures, to see women in male-dominated fields.
“One might ask why we celebrate the contribution of women in society more than we do of men. But this is for the obvious reasons of the gender gap that continues to exist. Research shows that there are very substantial differences between males and females in the workplace. Violence against women is still accepted as normal, but it is up to us to change this by supporting and encouraging one another and being our sister’s keeper.”
But Bogatsu said Batswana should be proud of achievements that have been made in terms of gender parity as 67% of Botswana businesses have women in leadership roles compared to 27% in the rest of Africa. However, she notes that women make up only 15% of top business leadership, saying this needs to change.
For her, part the High Commissioner of South Africa to Botswana, Bulelwa Kiva, said the particular women’s day had its own uniqueness that is coming from South Africa. The South African government declared 9 August as National Women’s Day, a day that seeks to highlight the advancement made since 1994. “Every year on 9 August, women from all over South Africa stand together to celebrate more than 20 000 women who marched on Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of pass laws to women.”
The event hosted women entrepreneurs, women from the creative industry, the corporate world and beauty queens, among others. Said Philadelphia Motladiile, an advocate for People Living with Albinism, author and singer, speaking at the same event: “All that you can do as a woman is find an escape route so you float and stay sane in the midst of all your challenges as a woman. As a person with albinism, I knew I had to find an escape route in writing books. My other escape route has always been singing. I retaliated to pressures and abuse by singing. Women are strong powerhouses that can make or destroy nations. But women who find a positive escape route are builders of the world.”