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Confronting Gender Inequality in Botswana - Essay Example

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The following essay "Confronting Gender Inequality in Botswana" dwells on the fight against gender inequality in Botswana. It is stated that Botswana has made remarkable progress in economic growth and the establishment of a Democratic, multi-party system since it achieved independence in 1966…
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Confronting Gender Inequality in Botswana
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"Confronting Gender Inequality in Botswana"

Download file to see previous pages Many of the government’s Western-influenced programs have addressed, but failed to root out, ancient customs that continue to challenge the country’s attempts to achieve equality. Customary inequality: Gender disparity among married women Botswana’s legal system operates in an awkward and impractical two-track paradigm, with cultural laws and customs existing alongside the nation’s common law. The conflict inherent in this system allows traditional gender inequality to exist in spite of anti-discriminatory laws passed by the government in recent years, written expressly to establish a gender-neutral social system. Botswana’s traditional law remains “particularly prejudicial to women’s rights, perpetuating unequal power relations between men and women and strengthening stereotypes on (Name) 2 the role of women” (Shadow Report to the CEDAW Committee, BOCONGO, 2009). The Domestic Violence Act was passed in 2008 but unequal power relations persist between men and women. This law criminalized acts of violence against women, but the fundamental conflict between tribal/customary and common law has frustrated efforts to legislate equality between the sexes. In Botswana, even today, “under customary law and common rural practices men are perceived to have the right to ‘chastise’ their wives” (Shadow Report to the CEDAW Committee, BOCONGO, 2009). At present, the law sets 18 as the minimum marriage age. But traditional practice honors no such age limit and considers women of all ages to be minors, extending no individual financial or property rights. Worse, married women who experience physical violence of some form have very few practical rights. A 2009 United Nations report indicated that three of every five women in Botswana have experienced some kind of domestic violence. The minimum punishment for rape is 10 years in prison, but marital rape is not a criminal offense. There is no provision in the law requiring victims to be tested for rape and, as of 2010, there was only one domestic violence shelter in operation (Shadow Report to the CEDAW Committee, 2009). In a 2010 statement to the 45th session of the Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Botswana Ambassador Boometswe Mokgothu reported that the country recognizes the importance of addressing the problem at its source. To that end, the government has embarked on a “sensitization” campaign aimed at the guardians of the country’s tribal customs, the Ntlo ya Dikgosi. “Sensitization of the Dikgosi is very important (Name) 3 to solicit their support, especially that some of the discriminatory and harmful practices that impact negatively on women and development are found in this area” (Mokgothu, 5). Addressing the problem at the tribal level stands out as a remarkably enlightened and progressive tactic aimed at effecting change at the source. It is essential that the government continue to establish long-term working partnerships with tribal leaders if true gender equality is to be maintained. Young, pregnant and uneducated: Seeking educational equality for pregnant teens In Botswana, pregnancy is one of the main reasons young women drop out of school.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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