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Key findings
  • Educational attainment is close to gender-equal in Botswana, with a slightly higher proportion of women with secondary schooling.
  • Asset ownership favours men when it comes to motor vehicles, computers, television sets, and radios but is gender-equal with regard to mobile phones and bank accounts.
  • A larger proportion of women (58%) than of men (52%) say they make independent decisions regarding how household money is spent.
  • More than three-fourths (77%) of Batswana endorse gender equality in hiring, rejecting the idea that when jobs are scarce, men should be given priority. Women (82%) and highly educated citizens (86%) are especially likely to support equal rights to a job.
  • Citizens agree overwhelmingly (91%) that women should have the same right as men to own and inherit land.

Achieving gender equality is central to any state’s social, economic, and political progress, as more gender-equal societies also tend to be more prosperous, more peaceful, and healthier (United Nations, 2022). More importantly, women’s rights are human rights, and as women and girls represent half of the world’s population, any progress must include them.

The government of Botswana has shown commitment to ending gender-based violence (GBV) and discrimination by formulating policies, strategies, and programmes such as the National Policy on Gender and Development (with a National Gender Commission to monitor implementation), the National Gender-Based Violence Strategy 2015-2020, and the Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme (Republic of Botswana, 2017; UN Women, n.d.). The government also subscribes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 5 – “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” (United Nations, 2022). Gender equality is a cross-cutting principle underlying most other SDGs, highlighting that development can only succeed if women and men enjoy its benefits equally.

Despite Botswana’s efforts to promote gender equality, it needs significant progress to achieve SDG 5. According to the World Economic Forum’s (2022) Global Gender Gap Index, Botswana ranks 66th among 146 countries in terms of gender parity in critical dimensions: economic opportunities, education, health, and political leadership. Within sub-Saharan Africa, Botswana places 14th among 36 countries considered in the index, well behind top- rated Rwanda, Namibia, and South Africa.

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2022) questionnaire to explore citizens’ attitudes, experiences, and perceptions with regard to gender equality in educational attainment, control over assets, hiring, land ownership, and political leadership.

Findings show that majorities of Batswana express support for women’s right to equality in hiring, land ownership, and political leadership. But almost half consider it likely that women will suffer criticism, harassment, or family problems if they run for political office. Overall, fewer than half of Batswana approve of the government’s performance in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women, and an overwhelming majority say the government should do more.

Keneilwe Sadie Mooketsane

Keneilwe is a research associate of Star Awards

Wilford Molefe

Wilford Molefe is the co-national investigator for Botswana.

Mir Muhtadi Faiaz

Mir Muhtadi Faiaz is a researcher

Anita Raj

Anita Raj is a professor of medicine, professor of social sciences, and the director of the Center on Gender Equity and Health.