Senior Client Experience Manager at Botswana Life, BOINEELO KWELAGOBE, argues that men are typically the gatekeepers not only in workspaces and healthcare but in transportation and social activities, especially with regards to the women around them. So who better to be injected into the conversation about the development of women than these very men?
Globally, women are afforded fewer opportunities than men and have less access to basic and higher education. Botswana, however, is one of two countries in Africa with the highest number of female Board of Directors. As of 2020, the percentage of women at senior management stood at 72, a step closer to the global percentage of 87.
Giving women self-development opportunities to reach their full potential is of critical importance, not only for achieving gender equality but for also meeting a broad range of international development goals, especially in developing countries.
Empowered women and girls play a fundamental role in the contribution to the health and productivity of their families, communities and countries, thus creating a ripple effect of benefits for everyone. Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited Group Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Lesetedi, is a true testament to this. She has paved the way for many women to succeed and innovate within our financial services landscape. As a business, Botswana Life strives to shed more light on women who have had to tackle inequality at varying degrees within the workplace, national policy, and within everyday instances of social prejudice.
Paying it forward, as defined by the pop culture dictionary, is an expression used for when a recipient of an act of kindness in turn does something kind for someone else, rather than simply accepting or repaying the original good deed. Botswana Life commends the women committed to paying the good deeds that have been extended to them to the next generation, helping them develop personal abilities as well as make choices without limitations set by stereotypes and prejudices regarding gender roles. Another value the organisation stands firm in being associated with is women within and beyond the organisation showing kindness to one another by creating spaces for other women to thrive.
The word “gender” talks to the socially-constructed roles and responsibilities that societies consider appropriate for men and women. Gender equality would then mean that men and women have equal power and equal opportunities for financial independence, education as well as personal development. As men and women, we are all a part of Generation Equality and it is in our benefit as a nation to ensure that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents.
While it is encouraging that workplaces around the country have made great strides in regard to gender equity, equal emphasis needs to be made within our homes, communities and social spaces. Moreover, we should not disregard the role men play in women’s development initiatives and interventions. Men are typically the gatekeepers not only in workspaces and healthcare but in transportation and social activities, especially with regards to the women around them. So who better to be injected into the conversation about the development of women than these very men?
Education, especially in developing countries, is the key area of focus. Although there are more women in recent years attending and completing their studies, girls still make up a higher percentage of out-of-school children than boys. In Botswana, women empowerment through education is improving. Since 1990, the average expected years of schooling for girls has gone from 10.3 years to 12.8 years as of 2015. The average gross national income for women between the same years has gone up from $7,988 to $13,281.
The overall safety and health of women is another key area. Women in developing areas have less opportunity for health education, unequal power in sexual partnership or as a result of gender-based violence. Furthermore, studies have also shown that another contributing factor to the marginalisation of women in leadership roles in developing countries emanated from conservative elements and practices embedded in their cultures. Women that are in more advantageous situations can empower others by connecting them with the right people and encouraging them to apply for promotions, ask for further training and mentorship and being more approachable when other women need help. Measures that can be taken by organisations to mitigate these challenges involve normative instruments. Through these, organisations can identify the main challenges and further advocate for systemic approaches to tackle gender inequalities.
Globally, no country has achieved gender equality. However, certain steps, including developing career strategies for women and girls, digital fluency as well as technological emersion, could serve as a catalyst to achieving it. The overall effort towards gender equality does not only contribute to social, cultural and ethnical demands but contributes significantly to economical demands of countries such as Botswana.
This thought leadership piece was authored by Boineelo Kwelagobe at Botswana Life Insurance Limited.