Maun West MP, Mr Tawana Moremi has told Parliament that citizens should be engineers of policies that Parliament adopts.
The legislator said this during the debate of the National Policy on Gender and Development of 2015 which was tabled before Parliament for adoption by the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Mr Edwin Batshu.
Mr Moremi, who opposed the policy, acknowledged that the presented policy framework was meant to guide the nation on issues regarding gender, but said there were loopholes that needed to be addressed, noting that they were also raised by the Leader of Opposition, Mr Duma Boko when opening the debate.
“When we formulate policies, a commission of inquiry which will embrace all views of Batswana and relevant stakeholders on a specific issue should be instituted, a white paper will then be produced which will then be brought to Parliament for debate,” he said.
He said formulation of policies such as the one presented required a broad spectrum of views from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Emang Basadi, Ditshwanelo, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) to name but a few, which he said would be greatly beneficial in crafting the policy.
“We do not want a situation whereby we make policies and these organisations come to Parliament to lobby. Their views must be incorporated from the beginning,” he said.
The Maun West MP said he did not support adoption of the policy for the reason that the policy does not adequately address issues of lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
“If we adopt this policy now with all these loopholes it will take maybe 20 years to review it again, it’s important to deal with these issues now,” he said.
Furthermore, he said gender stereotypes prevalent in mainstream society were uncalled for.”I am against the use of the word di gay,” which connoted discrimination against people of that nature.
The MP for Thamaga/Kumakwane, Mr Tshenolo Mabeo, who supported the proposed policy, emphasised the need for gender equality as stipulated in the proposed national policy on gender and development 2015.
However, Mr Mabeo was against quotas set aside for women, arguing that women were equally capable and were endowed with the same potential as their male counterparts.
Okavango MP, Mr Bagalatia Aaron supported the policy and advocated for empowerment of women and the girl child, arguing that gender inequality was prevalent especially in rural communities.
However, he wanted to know why the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gender protocol was not ratified to date.He said given the complexity of society and culture, issues of gender remained complex.
“For us to adequately deal with these issues of gender, we need to dialogue to enable us to define exactly what we mean by gender,” he said.Also supporting the policy was Francistown South MP, Mr Wynter Mmolotsi who said it covered gender disparities between males and females.
“This policy will help us to show that both men and women have equal potentials irrespective of gender,” he said.He said in some instances, women had proven to have potential transcending gender stereotypes society attaches to them.He said gender stereotypes remained a stumbling block which should be dealt with adequately.
On issues of lesbians, gays and bisexuals, he said they were in denial, “but science tells us that people made up of these genotypes exist. When we make policies going forward we must consider these people because they did not apply to be transgender,” he said.
Mr Mmolotsi also pointed out that it was important to engage relevant stakeholders when formulating policies.
Francistown East MP, Mr Buti Billy said the policy should address the situation on the ground while society should also accept hermaphrodite people did exist even though they were not recognised by the constitution of the country.
Mr Billy suggested that they should be recognised by the constitution since their numbers were increasing and that society should appreciate that.
He also recommended that infrastructure such as public toilets should be designed such that they catered for gays, lesbians and hermaphrodites.