Gender Equality in Botswana

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Botswana
flag_Botswana.png
Flag of Botswana
Population (in Mil.) 2.00
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 14.50
Sex Ratio (m/f) 1.02
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 0.978723404
Fertility Rate 2.5
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.47
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 7.4
Women in Parliament (in %) 7.9
INDICES
Human Development Index 119/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index - /86
Gender Inequality Index 119/186
Gender Equity Index 45/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 77/128
Global Gender Gap Index - /68
More information on variables

Contents

Social Institutions

Botswana gained independence from British rule in 1966. Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, although the Central Intelligence Agency reports that country has one of the best policy and programme responses to the epidemic.[1] The World Bank classifies Botswana as an upper middle income country.[2]

The status of women in Botswana is affected by the dual legal system, where discriminatory practices and attitudes continue to perpetuate women’s unequal status. Discriminatory attitudes towards women are also linked to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana.[3] Section 15 of the Constitution of Botswana provides the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of sex. However, the right does not apply to laws on adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law.[4] Botswana became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1996 and has also acceded to the CEDAW Optional Protocol.

In 2011, the Human Development Index for Botswana was 0.633, placing the country at 118 out of 187 countries with data.[5] For the Gender Inequality Index Botswana received a score of 0.507, placing the country at 102 out of 146 countries with data.[6] In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked Botswana 66 out of 135 countries in its 2011 Global Gender Gap Report, with a score of 0.6832 where 0 represents inequality and 1 represents equality.[7]

Discriminatory Family Code

Under the Marriage Act which was amended in 2001, the legal age of marriage is 18 for both sexes, conditional on parental consent. Without parental consent, the legal age is 21. This age limit does not apply to marriages contracted under customary or religious law.[8] Under customary law, there is no minimum age for marriage. After reaching puberty and going through initiation rites, minors are deemed to be of marriageable age.[9]

Based on 2001 data, the United Nations reports that 5 % of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.[10] With respect to early pregnancy, the most recent data available is from 1988 which estimated that 5 % of 15 to 19 women were pregnant with their first child.[11]

The government reports that despite polygamy being prohibited under common law, some communities continue to permit polygamy for marriages under customary and religious laws. In such cases only men are permitted to have multiple spouses, thereby discriminating against women.[12]

The Abolition of Marital Power Act was introduced in 2004 to remove the legal principle of the husband as the head of the family and the sole guardian of children in the family. The common law now provides that mothers and fathers have equal guardianship of their children. However, these provisions do not apply to customary or religious marriages. The new law also provides women equal rights to choose domicile however under customary law husbands retain the right to choose domicile.[13]

With respect to divorce rights, both women and men have equal rights for seeking a divorce. However the law is discriminatory in requiring only women to be a resident of Botswana for three continuous years prior to seeking a divorce.[14]

Although women and men have equal inheritance rights under common law, customary laws provide that the principal heir is the son. Daughters generally have not rights to inherit unless the property is specifically allocated to them while their father is still alive.[15] The Abolition of Marital Power in 2004 provided women equal rights in relation to decision making on family property management, including upon the death of a husband.[16] However, this does not apply to customary or religious marriages where the eldest male son assumes the role as head of the household.[17]

Restricted Physical Integrity

Rape is prohibited under the Penal Code with a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, increasing to 15 years with corporal punishment if the offender is HIV-positive, and 20 years' imprisonment with corporal punishment if the offender was aware of having HIV-positive status.[18] In 2008, the Domestic Violence Act was passed by the parliament which prohibits domestic violence and provides victims the right to seek protection orders from court, including customary courts. The law does not criminalise marital rape.[19] The law prohibits sexual harassment in both the private and public sectors.[20] Sexual harassment committed by a public official is considered misconduct and is punishable by termination with or without forfeiture of all retirement benefits, suspension with loss of pay and benefits for up to three months, reduction in rank or pay or a reprimand.

Non-government organisations report that despite the new domestic violence legislation, domestic violence is not always treated as serious by law enforcement officers. Further, some cases do not reach the courts because women often withdraw charges because women are expected to remain silent about domestic violence and remain in an abusive relationship. The economic dependence of women is also a factor preventing women from reporting domestic violence. Finally, it is reported that women in rural areas are not necessarily aware of the legislation.[21]

Attitudes that normalise and condone violence against women are an obstacle to ensuring women’s physical integrity. A study conducted by Physicians for Human Rights found that 17 % of people agreed that a man may beat his partner if he believes she is having sex with other men. Further, 10 % affirmed that it is a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband even if she does not want to.[22] Women’s lack of control of sexual activity and discriminatory gender norms have been attributed to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana.[23]

Non-governmental organisations in Botswana report that sexual violence is common, particularly amongst young women and girls.[24] According to the US Department of State the number of reported rape cases increased from 1,360 in 2008 to 1,539 in 2009. However, the laws against rape are not effectively enforced with police noting that victims often decline pressing charges against perpetrators.[25]

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is reported to not exist in Botswana, although information on specific legislation against FGM is limited.[26] Having control over the timing and spacing of children is an important aspect of women’s physical integrity. In Botswana, abortion is permitted for therapeutic reasons to save the woman’s life or health, in the event of rape or incest or due to foetal impairment. It is not permitted on request or on social or economic grounds.[27] Based on data from 2000, the World Health Organisation reports that 40 % of married women were using contraception, with 39 % using modern methods.[28]

Son Bias

Gender disaggregated data on rates of infant mortality and early childhood nutrition are not available for Botswana. According to the World Economic Forum in 2010, Botswana has achieved gender parity in educational attainment in terms of literacy, primary school enrolment, secondary school enrolment and tertiary enrolment.[29]This indicates that there is no preferential treatment of sons with respect to access to education.

The Central Intelligence Agency reports that Botswana has a male/female sex ratio for the total population of 1.02 in 2012.[30]

There is no evidence to suggest that Botswana is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

Restricted Resources and Entitlements

There is no discrimination against women in the common law regarding land ownership; however discriminatory customary laws and discriminatory practices in the allocation of land prevent women from owning land. For instance, under the Common Law, land is allocated by the Land Boards which often require women to be assisted by their husbands or male relatives.[31]

Women’s ownership of property is determined by the type of marriage contract they enter into. Under the Common Law, a couple may choose to marry in or out of community of property.[32] In community of property (joint estate), the property acquired by either spouse upon marriage and during marriage is held jointly. Prior to 1 May 2005, women were not allowed to control assets, even if their contribution to the joint estate may have been significant. However, all marriages are automatically out of community of property unless both parties expressly state otherwise in writing. Marriages out of community of property allow each person to keep their separate property. Under this arrangement the wife has the legal capacity to administer her own property. It should be noted that these provisions do not apply to customary and religious marriages where discriminatory practices against women in accessing property persist.[33] Further, despite advances in women’s property rights, a lack of awareness amongst women poses an obstacle to these rights being realised. With respect to access to credit, there are no legal barriers to women’s access to credit. However, discriminatory attitudes, women’s lower socio-economic position and emphasis on land as collateral by the banks make women’s access to bank loans difficult.[34] The government has introduced a number of programmes to address these barriers, including an economic empowerment programme.[35] Further, non-government organisations report that there is a general lack of cultural acceptance of the role of women as entrepreneurs.[36]

Restricted Civil Liberties

The constitution guarantees freedom of movement for women in Botswana.[37] However, under customary law women’s rights to choose their residence and domicile are restricted.[38] The US Department of State reports that the government in Botswana generally respects press freedom and the right to association.[39] Non-governmental organisations report that there is a strong women’s movement which has played a critical role in securing the rights of women in Botswana.[40] With respect to the representation of women in the media, non-governmental organisations report a mixed impact for gender equality, with the media playing a role in drawing attention to women’s rights issues, but also reinforcing negative gender stereotypes.[41]

With respect to women’s participation in political life, the World Economic Forum reports that women make up only 8 % of Botswana’s parliamentarians and 12 % of Ministerial positions.[42] The most recent elections were held in 2009.[43] Women in Botswana have equal rights to paid employment and equal pay.[44] Women also have a right to paid maternity leave of 12 weeks, to be paid not less than 25 % of basic pay she would have been entitled to receive or 50 % for each day of absence, whichever is greater.[45]


References

  1. Central Intelligence Agency (2010) The World Fact Book: Botswana, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bc.html, accessed 13 November 2010.
  2. World Bank (n.d.) Online data: Botswana, available at http://data.worldbank.org/country/botswana, accessed at 20 November 2010.
  3. Physicians for Human Rights (2007) Epidemic of Inequality, Women’s Rights and HIV/AIDS in Botswana & Swaziland: An Evidence-Based Report on the Effects of Gender Inequity, Stigma and Discrimination, available at http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library
  4. Section 15, Constitution of Botswana 1966
  5. United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.p.128
  6. United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.p.141
  7. World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf, accessed 2 March 2012.p.10
  8. United Nations Committee On The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) (2008) Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 18 Of The Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women, COMBINED IN p.114
  9. United Nations Committee On The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) (2008) Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 18 Of The Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women, COMBINED INp.114
  10. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) World Marriage Data 2008, available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WMD2008/Main.html, accessed 10 October 2010
  11. World Health Organisation (n.d.) Department of Making Pregnancy Safer: Botswana Country Profile, available at http://www.afro.who.int/en/clusters-a-programmes/frh/making-pregnancy-safer/mps-country-profiles.html, accessed 20 November 2010.
  12. United Nations Committee On The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) (2008) Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 18 Of The Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women, Combined INpp.115-116
  13. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. p.42-43
  14. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/ 3, Geneva.p.116
  15. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. p.97
  16. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. 2008) p.35
  17. Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations (Fao) (N.D.) Gender And Land Rights Database: Full Country Report – Botswana, Available At Http://Www.Fao.Org/Gender/Landrights/Report/?Country=Bw, Accessed 20 November 2010. (n.d.)
  18. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. (2008) p.39
  19. United Nations Committee On The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) (2009) Responses To The List Of Issues And Questions With Regard Tothe Consideration Of The Combined Initial, Second And Third Periodic Reports Botswana, Cedaw/C/Bot/Q/3/A p.9
  20. US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Botswana, Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135939.htm, accessed 20 November 2010.
  21. Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (2009) Botswana NGO’s Shadow Report to CEDAW, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/bocongo_Botswana45.pdf, accessed 20 November 2010.pp.52-53
  22. Physicians for Human Rights (2007) Epidemic of Inequality, Women’s Rights and HIV/AIDS in Botswana & Swaziland: An Evidence-Based Report on the Effects of Gender Inequity, Stigma and Discrimination, available at http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library p.56
  23. Physicians for Human Rights (2007) Epidemic of Inequality, Women’s Rights and HIV/AIDS in Botswana & Swaziland: An Evidence-Based Report on the Effects of Gender Inequity, Stigma and Discrimination, available at http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library p.56
  24. Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (2009) Botswana NGO’s Shadow Report to CEDAW, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/bocongo_Botswana45.pdf, accessed 20 November 2010.p.28
  25. US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Botswana, Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135939.htm, accessed 20 November 2010.
  26. Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010) Parline Database: Botswana, available at http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm, accessed 1 November 2010.
  27. United Nations Population Division (2007) World Abortion Policies 2007, Available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2007_Abortion_Policies_Chart/2007_WallChart.pdf, accessed 13 October 2010
  28. United Nations Population Division (2007) World Abortion Policies 2007, Available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2007_Abortion_Policies_Chart/2007_WallChart.pdf, accessed 13 October 2010
  29. World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 20 October 2010.p.84
  30. Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Fact Book: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html, accessed 29 February 2012.
  31. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. p.108
  32. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. pp.35-36
  33. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. pp.35-36
  34. Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (2009) Botswana NGO’s Shadow Report to CEDAW, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/bocongo_Botswana45.pdf, accessed 20 November 2010.p.45
  35. United Nations Committee On The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) (2009) Responses To The List Of Issues And Questions With Regard Tothe Consideration Of The Combined Initial, Second And Third Periodic Reports Botswana, Cedaw/C/Bot/Q/3/A p.18
  36. Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (2009) Botswana NGO’s Shadow Report to CEDAW, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/bocongo_Botswana45.pdf, accessed 20 November 2010.p.45
  37. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva.p.26
  38. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. pp.112-113
  39. US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Botswana, Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135939.htm, accessed 20 November 2010.
  40. Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (2009) Botswana NGO’s Shadow Report to CEDAW, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/bocongo_Botswana45.pdf, accessed 20 November 2010.p.54
  41. Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (2009) Botswana NGO’s Shadow Report to CEDAW, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/bocongo_Botswana45.pdf, accessed 20 November 2010.p.57
  42. World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 20 October 2010.p.84
  43. Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010) Parline Database: Botswana, available at http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm, accessed 1 November 2010.
  44. United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Combined initial, second and third periodic reports of States parties Botswana, CEDAW/C/BOT/3, Geneva. pp.92-93
  45. International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2010) Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, available at http://www.ilo.org/dyn/travail/travmain.home, accessed 31 October 2010.

See Also

Women and African Economic Development

The Africa for Women's Rights Campaign

Africa4womensrights.png

Key facts

The Campaign

On 8 March 2009 the "Africa for Women's Rights" Campaign was launched at the initiative of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in collaboration with fove non-governmental regional organisations: the African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies(ACDHRS), Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA). These organisations make up the Steering Committee responsible for the coordination of the Campaign.

The Campaign aims to put an end to discrimination and violence against women in Africa, calling on states to ratify international and regional instruments protecting women's rights, to repeal all discriminatory laws, to adopt laws protecting the rights of women and to take all necessary measures to wensure their effective implementation.

Country Focus: Botswana

While Botswana has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, Botswana has so far failed to ratify – or even sign – the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).

The Coalition of the Campaign is particularly concerned about the following continued violations of women’s human rights in Botswana: application of discriminatory customary laws; access to property; violence against women; access to decision-making positions; access to employment and health services; and the persistence of discriminatory stereotypes and patriarchal attitudes.

Read more

Sources

The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women?  

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Botswana, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Botswana
page.

Sources


The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database

FAO logo.jpg

The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database contains country level information on social, economic, political and cultural issues related to the gender inequalities embedded in those rights. Disparity on land access is one of the major causes for social and gender inequalities in rural areas, and it jeopardizes, as a consequence, rural food security as well as the wellbeing of individuals and families.

Six categories

The Database offers information on the 6 following Categories:

For detailed information on Botswana, please visit the report on Botswana in the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database.

Sources

Progress Assessment of MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Millennium Development Goal #3 is divided into three sub-categories, each of them focusing on different areas: education, employment wage and political power.

Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education

Botswana has made good progress towards gender equality. Parity has virtually been achieved in primary and secondary education [1] According to the UNDP and Botswana's governement 2010 report, the difference in primary school enrolment for boys and girls reflects the sex ratio at birth rather than differential access to education. The enrolment ratios are reversed at the secondary school level, where more girls are enrolled than boys owing to higher progression rates for the former. For instance in 2009, girls accounted for 48.8% of primary school enrolment and 51.9% of secondary school enrolment. Overall, the statistics suggest parity in access to primary and secondary education for boys and girls."(id. 32)

Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector

The proportion of women in paid employment is lower than that for men. For instance, the share of women in wage employment in the nonagricultural sector was estimated at 43.4% in 2007 and 41.2% in 2008 (CSO, 2009). Notwithstanding this, the proportion of women in the workforce has grown rapidly. A key concern however, is that women dominate the relatively low paying occupations such as hotels and restaurants (74.3%); private households (71.4%) and retail. In the professions requiring higher skill levels, women dominate the education, finance, and health sectors, mostly at the lower end.[2].

Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament

In 2007, 11.1% of seats at the national Parliament were held by women [3] down 18% in the 1994-1999 Parliament[4]. Government policy and legislation have also evolved positively in support of women’s empowerment. In this regard, the most significant legislative reform is the abolition of the Marital Power Act of 2004. The original act had effectively made wives minors in deference to their husbands.

References

  1. http://www.undp.org/africa/documents/mdg/botswana_2010.pdf MDG Assessment. UNDP.2010.
  2. http://www.undp.org/africa/documents/mdg/botswana_2010.pdf%20MDG%20Assessment.%20UNDP.2010. http://www.undp.org/africa/documents/mdg/botswana_2010.pdf MDG Assessment. UNDP.2010.]
  3. http://www.mdgmonitor.org/map.cfm?goal=&indicator=&cd= MDG Monitor. Botswana
  4. MDG Assessment. UNDP.2010.
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