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Key findings
  • In Botswana, women are no more likely than men to say they suffered gender-based discrimination during the previous 12 months (6% each) and are somewhat less likely to say that people are “often” or “always” treated unequally under the law (36% of women vs. 42% of men).
  • More women than men say it is easy to access basic public services. Both women and men say they are generally treated with respect by public officials.
  • Two-thirds (67%) of Batswana say equal opportunities and treatment for women have improved in recent years, and most (83%) approve of the government’s performance in promoting gender equality.
  • Nine out of 10 Batswana (89%) support equal rights for women to own and inherit land, and seven out of 10 (69%) oppose giving men priority for scarce jobs.
  • Consistently since 2005, more than 80% of Batswana have affirmed that women should have the same chance as men of being elected to public office.

The political, economic, and social inequality of women in Africa has been part of international discourse since the 1950s, when the United Nations began interrogating the effects of harmful traditional norms and practices on women across the continent. Human-rights groups have worked with and challenged African governments to promote women’s access to education, health care, economic opportunities, and participation in governance and politics (Murungu, 2017). While progress has been made, persistent gaps are the focus of Sustainable Development Goal No. 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” (United Nations, 2016).

In Botswana, the African Development Bank’s (2015) Africa Gender Equality Index Report found a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Giving it the seventh-highest overall score in Africa, the report described Botswana as strong in promoting gender equality in economic opportunity and human development, but relatively weak in ensuring legal and political equality.

Data from Afrobarometer’s most recent survey in Botswana show that women generally agree with men that gender equality has improved in recent years and that women enjoy equal rights when it comes to jobs and land ownership. Women are no more likely than men to report gender-based discrimination, and in fact are somewhat more likely than men to find it easy to obtain key public services. Popular support for gender equality at the ballot box has been solid for more than a decade, although one in three men still say they should be given priority for scarce jobs.

David Jacobs

David Jacobs is a former officer in the South African Navy and assistant director in the Western Cape Provincial Government in South Africa.

Thomas Isbell

Post-doctoral research fellow and research assistant at Afrobarometer