Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HALF WOMAN, HALF AMAZING

This year Botswana celebrated International Women's Day in earnest. 


The Department of Women's Affairs went to a town just outside the capital city Gaborone, to commemorate this Day's centenary (1911 - 2011). While 3 of my artists (my company Sauti Arts and Performance Management handles PR, bookings etc for a handful of Gaborone's finest talent) were performing at a concurrent event at Botswana Craft, I attended a panel discussion at the University of Botswana chaired by Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs Prof. Frank Youngman.

The theme this year was Equal access to Education, Training and Science and Technology: Pathway to decent work.

Lots of interesting presentations, some arguably contentious feedback from the floor and 3 hours later a gentleman's :) agreement to develop mentorship programmes and encourage young women to not only consider majoring in the sciences but to complete the course and not just look for the-hard-to-come-by-anyway-jobs but rather seek partnerships through which they can begin to create an industrial base. One of the experts on the floor mentioned that Africa is actually de-industrialising rather than building industrial bases and that introducing innovation as a guiding principle and of course given this years theme that focusing on science and technology as a catalyst for an 'industrial revolution' was the way to go.

The Head of the regionally inter-governmental organisation: Southern African Coordinating Committee's Gender Unit strongly urged those present to read existing policies/strategic documents in order to hold politicians accountable. Referring everyone to certain documents had already been ratified and therefore should be upheld by the countries who had committed to signing them as well as pointing out that those that had not yet been ratified provided an opportunity for advocacy.

One gentleman in the audience, who is also a gender studies student, pointed out that he found it "not enough" to simply shift the blame to policy or politics but rather women begin to walk the talk by supporting each other especially when it came to potential ways of influencing policy such as voting each other into national office

Given that there is still so very much to do, it's great to see that there is still so much practical passion from the folks at the Gender Policy Programme Committee as well as the SADC Gender Unit.

Here's to a hundred more years of less cause to lament and more reasons to celebrate ourselves, and each other.