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Strength of a woman

Strength of a woman


Following a long career in gender and media activism spanning over forty years, 68-year old Keabonye Ntsabane, Councillor for Taung ward in Ramotswa area (South East District) says her activism in gender matters is far from over.

Holding a gender commission position in South-East District Council, Ntsabane is this week trying her luck in the same portfolio at national level where the governing council, Botswana Association for Local Government Authorities (BALA) was holding an elective Congress.

The Voice reporter FRANCINAH BAAITSE had a chat with the renowned activist before elections day to establish why few women make it to decision making positions.

Thank you for your time Councillor, I am told you will be contesting for the Gender Commission post, looks like you truly want to get to the very top chair of decision making eh?

(Laughing) Sisters, I will be trying my luck at national level for position of Gender Commission yes.

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Already I hold the same position at district level so I will see where it goes.

As you know this is a contest and it requires campaign, but I believe fellow councillors will select a candidate with the best interest and experience in this regard.

Even if I do not win it, I will rally behind whoever is selected and support them all the way without any hard feelings at all.

You are known for your activism in gender equality. From your experience while at Gender Links as well as a politician, why do few women go into politics?

We do not see many women contesting in many positions at leadership level because once you are within, it gets even complicated, the workload is too much and you have to work extra hard and even three times harder than your male counterparts so as to sustain the confidence that the voters had on you.

So being a woman in politics cannot be a small task at all and I can relate to the very opinions I used to hear from other women when I was still only concerned with advocacy.

I noticed that out of the sixteen districts fourteen are led by men. At this pace when do you think Botswana will reach the 50/50 representation quota?

We still have a long way to go, many grounds to cover and a lot of work to do.

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We still have people who believe men and women are not equal and that women are still not challenging men in these positions.

Maybe it is because of the way we were raised, it is entrenched within us that some things are better left for men.

But I believe we will get there, it is doable as long as women can get out of their comfort zones and face these men head on.

You went out there, campaigned and won a council seat on your first run for political office in 2019, what is your secret weapon?

Hard work, and that is why I am the current Sub-Council Vice Chairperson.

I also do not classify people according to their social standing.

To me every person is equal before the law and the Lord and we need to be treated all fairly and equally, we all need to be heard.

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You cannot be a leader when you are a selective listener and do not make time for people.

Strength of a woman


Is that all it takes?

A lot more. Politics is a dirty game and all you need is to stand out from the rest, tell the truth at all times, do not make empty promises.

Trying to get people to like you by misleading them is political suicide.

Lies always get exposed ultimately and the very people we want to lead are not ignorant, so politics is not all about shouting at freedom squares and luring people to vote for you They need your presence on the ground, you’ve got to be people’s person, if you understand what I mean?

Totally understandable. At your age and given family responsibilities and demands of your political career, do you still want to run for council in 2024?

When the time is right I will let you know.

The fact that I joined politics at this advanced age of mine and still managed to win shows my strength and confidence that electorates have on me.

So if my health allows it, and my party says so, then yes, I will contest.

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How do you juggle between your home duties and work demands?

When the council session is not on, I go on the ground and consult the people.

When I was Gender Links Director, I had a lot on my plate.

I had to file reports and do this and that, but the council’s work is less hectic.

Sometimes I organise lunch for the people in my ward where we eat, chat and I get to hear their concerns and ideas in a more relaxed environment.

You do give a lot to the less privileged, don’t you think your opponents will think you are trying to buy votes through that?

What they think of me does not matter, what I am concerned about is the welfare of the people.

Giving and sharing is what I am, I was born like that and even before joining politics, that’s what I used to do.

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It makes me happy when I bring positive change and bringing a smile on another person’s life.

Even the Bible says, blessed is the hand that gives.

Your Last word?

It will be to encourage women who are ready to lead not to hesitate but go for it.

They should not fear the arrogant and deep voices of men out there in the freedom squares and should understand that God gave men and women alike, the brains and voices to use, the eyes to see around us and ears to hear.

It is only how we deal with issues that will set us apart.

We want to see more women leading cities and districts as Mayors and chairpersons, these seats are not reserved for men alone, we all can make it to that level and even higher if we put an extra effort.

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