“Policies have been developed, programmes have been put in place and activities such as the Women’s Business Expo have been coordinated by government to support women entrepreneurs,” she said.
However, Ms Madibela expressed concern that although policies were in place and gender mainstreaming efforts had been coordinated, economic policies, in particular, have not been really gender mainstreamed and they were not gender mainstreamed and did not respond to women’s economic empowerment issues fully.
For that reason, she said a lot still needed to be done to emancipate women, as there were so many gaps that remained to be filled, such as information gap which she said continued to be a huge problem for women entrepreneurs in Africa and Botswana was not an exception.
Empowering women, Ms Madibela said fueled thriving economies by spurring productivity and growth, yet gender inequalities remained deeply entrenched in every sector of our society because of patriarchy, and the economic sector is not an exception.
She said it was worrying that in all parts of the world, women still lacked access to decent work, faced occupational segregations and were too often denied access to basic education and health care. Additionally, she said women also still suffered violence and discrimination and were under represented in political and decision making processes.
“In deed a lot still needs to be done to emancipate women, especially in the economic sector, to bring them into the discussions for ensuring that their voices are heard in making and designing policies,” said Ms Madibela.
To improve and enhance women businesses, she said women entrepreneurs needed to be brought on board into Trade Missions, so that they could also be part of the negotiations. She stressed that women should be represented in these critical processes, so that they could contribute effectively as citizens of Botswana.
Ms Madibela expressed gratitude that the workshop’s objectives resonated well with the mandate of the UN Women Botswana. UN Women, she said focused on priority areas that were fundamental to women’s equality and that could unlock progress across the board, such as women’s economic empowerment.
“We are happy as UN Women to realise that women entrepreneurs networks in Botswana have taken a leap of faith to come together as one, as fostering collaborations between women entrepreneurs is very key for growth. These collaborations are making our lives easy as development partners. We know how to work with you. We will know better how to support you and it will actually make our lives easier,” she added.
African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program is a trade and investment initiative started by the US Department of State in 2010 as a professional exchange program and 2015 marked its fifth anniversary.In partnership with the US Agency for International Develop, AWEP provides; professional networking, business development and trade capacity building opportunities for networks of prominent female entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa.
AWEP Botswana Chapter was officially launched last year. This regional business network helped to grow the businesses by taking advantage of African Growth and Opportunity Act to export to the US and globally.The local chapter also helped to grow the production capacities of women to export goods and services, especially in the fields of; arts and crafts, agro-business, apparel and textile, hospitality and tourism, and cleaning services