…First Lady pleads with Ngamiland traditional leaders
First Lady, Neo Masisi who is a strong activist against Gender Based Violence (GBV) on women and girl children has called on traditional leaders in Ngamiland to look into ending cultural practices that perpetuate such social ill.
Persistent on her advocacy for rights of women and the girl child, Masisi used the recent inaugural Khoemacau Copper Mine GM’s Lake Ngami Cycle Classic held in Toteng that was graced by some local chiefs among other dignitaries to preach the message against GBV.
Ngamiland is known to be one of the districts which has some tribes that still hold on to certain cultural practices such as early child marriages that are however seen to been fueling and normalizing the scourge of GBV. Masisi said some of these practices are done without realizing that they promote abuse against women and girl children.
“I cannot end this day without making mention of gender-based violence,” Masisi said as she also called on the traditional leaders to consider those cultural practices which are sidelining women and girls when it comes to issues of gender equality. She said time for action against GBV is now but not a moment later.
“We know that every week we read or hear about gruesome murders, rape cases, child sexual abuses just to mention a few. GBV denies the victim their dignity, health, sanity and the beauty of life that they were granted by God,” she said.
Masisi made a call for action to the women and girls to speak out against the social ill and also for them to be activists in this fight. She further urged men and boys to protect, love and care for women and girls. The First Lady has since challenged all including among other, communities, faith based and civil society organizations to put on efforts in the fight against GBV.
“To the sport fraternity, I know I may be sounding biased but may I ask you to join government, myself and all other activists to fight GBV. I urge you to send a very strong message out to stop this social illness, we have seen in the past the cyclists myself included, those playing volleyball, soccer and other sporting codes saying enough off GBV,” Masisi pleaded urging them to come out deliberately, strongly and boldly in pursuit to end GBV cases in Botswana.
From 2020 the First Lady embarked on a countrywide gender-based violence cycling challenge campaign dubbed, ‘Cycling Towards a Gender Based Free Generation,’ with an aim of ending GBV in the country. Taking along district leadership around the country, Masisi through the exercise sought to raise awareness on issues related to GBV and child sexual abuse while also engaging with stakeholders.
Part of her cycling team competed in the inaugural Khoemacau Copper Mine GM’s Lake Ngami Cycle Classic held this past Sunday in support of her in the gender-based violence initiative. The team which is made up of professional cyclists put up a great performance in the 30km, 60km and in the 120 km races.
The First Lady is also a member of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) whose objectives include among them advocacy for HIV Prevention and empowerment of women and young people.