Women in Francistown are doing it

08th August 2017



Recently the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon Slumber Tsogwane attended a High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, whose theme was ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.’ This past week I was in Francistown and witnessed the theme practically implemented by the poor and vulnerable women of Francistown. Poverty and in particular its impact on women in this country is a known feature in all the districts and towns. Government through a number of programmes has for long been at war with the ills that come with unemployment and poverty among women. This column has no statistical evidence on record to affirm or otherwise how these government programmes have improved the lives of the many vulnerable women in our society. Neither does this article intend to criticise these government programmes. However what one can without fear or favour state here is that government programmes have provided temporary relief to a good number of households in our society. What these programmes have done is to promote a culture of dependence on the state. It is clear that these have not promoted and provided resilience amongst the beneficiaries. What is even more disturbing is that the programmes have taken away the dignity and pride that our mothers and grandmothers had in the days before the introduction of namola leuba and destitution programmes. In the past destitution was never something any able-bodied mother would want to be tagged with. Our society had various safety nets that one could resort to. Money economy has turned us into very individualistic society which no longer cares about each other’s welfare. This renders those without access to employment in the economy more dependent for their livelihood on the state. With the economic performance lately uncertain, how then are our programmes sustainable? Is there some resilience on the part of the programme beneficiaries? The answer is provided by wonderful, happy and proud women of Francistown. These women have come together to combat poverty, unemployment, reliance on the council for their livelihood and protect the environment they live in. These women have taken it upon themselves to combat vulnerability and have embarked on saving the few surplus Pulas they generate individually daily. They have broken the myth that we as Batswana have no culture of saving. They belong to the Botswana Homeless and Poor Federation. They have outdone themselves and through self-discipline they have made a lot of improvements in their family lives through dedication and commitment. They proudly do their own research and feasibility studies despite their academic background. They no longer require assistance of the Social Welfare Officer or SHHA or any other government programme. They have achieved financial stability. These women of the Ghetto manage to have more than P700 000.00 in their bank account which makes them even more resilient. It is this that makes them more assertive and self-confident to proudly shun with pride any more dependence on government for their survival. They want to get out of the ghetto mentality. Their programme which has proved more successful should be replicated throughout the country and we want to restore the dignity and pride of our mothers and grannies out there. The women in Francistown have done it.

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