Bots enlist women into army’s ranks


Gaborone- The recruitment of female soldiers into the ranks of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) will go a long way in neutralising the gender imbalance in the army, the Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole was quoted as saying.

In 2007, Botswana made national history by enlisting women into the army. They were trained in Tanzania by the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) for a 12- month period.

Dikole told The Telegraph that the military has since developed local capacity to train its soldiers; hence the next batch of female recruits will be trained inside the country by the defence force training unit.

“This is a milestone since we have long yearned to have a gender balanced Defence Force; with representation throughout both the officer and enlisted cadres. We are excited to achieve this milestone before the nation celebrates Vision 2016,” he said.

Although he could not reveal the number of females in the private rank or the next intake, Dikole warned the prospective female soldiers that there will be no special treatment for them during training although exceptions will be made under certain circumstances.

“Yes it is true we will be recruiting female recruits in the near future. As is normal practice we do not reveal our intended surge in recruitment or current holdings for security reasons,” he said.

Dikole added that “what we can attest to we recruit based on current shortages in general and those shortages are not gender based. For that purpose we have not allocated any specific vacancies to female recruits.”

Reports indicate that militaries in several African nations are in the early stages of integrating women soldiers into their ranks. And the U.S. Army Africa has been offering assistance in this regard. The United States Army Africa (USARAF) has previously hosted gender-integration workshops in Botswana and Namibia, at which military officials were sensitised on issues they need to address before incorporating women soldiers into their ranks.

Army representatives from Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia, the United States and the United Nations met earlier this year in Windhoek, Namibia from June 23—27, for the first Regional Gender Mainstreaming Seminar to share ideas and best practices.

“There are some African countries that are much more forward than others [in the process of integrating females into their forces]. 

That’s why it’s important that we have the conference, so that these nations can share,” said Sgt. Maj. Carolina Johnson, USARAF’s equal opportunity sergeant major and one of the main organizers for the event was quoted as saying at the time. 

November 2014
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