BRIDGE Gender and Elections Workshop in Botswana
The European Centre for Electoral Support in partnership with EISA and SADC Election Support Network delivered a BRIDGE module in Gender and Elections together with the Botswana local partner, the womens organisation Emang Basadi. This training occasion took place 8 - 10 October 2014 at Cresta President Hotel in central Gaborone and is part of the regional training and research scheme in the frame of the Preventing Electoral Violence Project. No less than 24 participants from civil society, media and political parties together with the facilitators Rindai Chipfunde-Vava and Bridget Masuleke created a conducing learning environment by connecting the workshop to Botswana's electoral context where general elections will take place 24 October this year.
Botswana, one of Africa's most stable countries, is the continent's longest continuous multi-party democracy. Elections are regularly held every five years, with the next scheduled to be held in 2014. The Bechuanaland People's Party (later Botswana People's Party, BPP) led both as the country's first national party and as the first political party to break up into splinter groups before the first General Elections in 1965. Elections are managed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which was established in 1997.
Botswana operates the first-past-the-post (FPTP) or simple majority electoral system. To avoid the huge costs of running national and local elections on separate dates, general and local elections in Botswana are conducted simultaneously. The country has had a history of free and fair elections with no violence reported despite the BPP remaining in power since independence. The 2009 elections saw a continuing decline in the number of women candidates both in the parliamentary and local government elections. In the parliamentary elections there was generally a low turnout of women candidates across all parties.
The SADC-ESN member organisation in Botswana Emang Basadi, was officially registered in 1986 as a non-governmental, non-profit women's organisation. It is a membership organisation committed to the principles of equality, justice and peace. Its membership cuts across a broad spectrum of the population — rural, urban, the elite and ordinary citizens. The organisation's main goal is to develop action-oriented strategies and mobilise women to take steps toward changing their social, political, economic and legal positions in Botswana.