First Lady commits to women and girl issues


The First Lady, Neo Masisi, better known as

Mma Atsile, says elevating women and girls is her personal priority.

Women and girls’ empowerment has remained a strategic focus area of the advocacy work delivered in the Office of the First Lady.

Mma Atsile, who was recently appointed UNAIDS Champion for the Empowerment and Engagement of Adolescent Girls and Young Women, observed at the launch of the Unifying Campaign, that women and girls face challenges in areas, including Health, GBV, Education and Economic Empowerment.

She explained that these form part of the #WeAreEqual Campaign, which she said, complements the programmes undertaken by the Office of the First Lady.

Among several programmes, there is

Dipalametse, which focuses on raising HIV awareness among adolescents and young people; youth dialogues on drug use; the recent national GBV prevention campaign, Nna ke Naledi Programme; and the youth economic empowerment workshops conducted during 2022 into 2023.

The Office of the First Lady also spearheads Eseng Mo Ngwaneng programme, in collaboration with international partners, UNICEF and UNAIDS.

Eseng Mo Ngwaneng is a campaign against sexual

exploitation and abuse.

Just last week, the First Lady launched another campaign, the Unifying Campaign, an initiative by the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).

Speaking at the launch, Masisi said being mothers of respective nations, First Ladies use their advocacy platforms, to close the gender gaps on the continent through the Unifying Campaign.

Masisi said numerous calls and pleas the world over including in Botswana have been made for gender equality. Studies and research also show that there are substantial economic benefits and developmental gains that nations stand to accrue where this milestone is achieved.

The First Lady believes that it is therefore important that gender equality is embedded in

all development plans – Global Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, the African Union Aspiration 6, Botswana Vision 2036 – Under Pillar 2 Human and Social Development.

She said it is noteworthy that our forefathers foretold, “Mosadi thari ya sechaba” – which means woman, she who carries a whole nation on her back.

She said despite the goals and aspirations of nations, the reality is a far cry to what these goals and aspirations call for.

“Take a recent number - according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, 2023, it will take 131 years to close the overall global gender gap at the current rate of progress,” she said.

She challenged those in attendance to view the campaign from a personal point of view.

“As we say #We are

Equal what does it mean to me and you? Who is this woman? Where is this woman? What are her life experiences? What is holding her back from reaching her optimum and finally and most importantly, how can I as an individual or the organisation I represent make a difference in her life?” she posited.

She reiterated the message on GBV as the world commemorates the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence “Let’s continue to unite, invest to prevent violence against women and girls, no Excuse at all!”

She encouraged women and girls to build strong support systems which will lead to a path of growth and a path where they thrive. She also appealed to Government to provide more investment and funding to drive the gender equality agenda.





Dikgang Publishing