Silencing the Guns Project in Botswana: A Focus on Gender-Based Violence—Report Back and Intergenerational Dialogue
On the 13th of April 2023, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and Restoration of Light (HWPL) and Volunteer Hub with International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) hosted an intergenerational dialogue about Gender-Based Violence (GBV) at Cresta Presidential Hotel in Gaborone. More than thirty people gathered to attend this event, which showed the heart that Botswana has for peace.
While Botswana lacks official statistics on GBV, the Botswana National Relationship Study released by UN Women in 2017 found that 37% of women had experienced GBV, including 28% during the previous twelve months. Since GBV is not only an issue that affects women and girls but also men and boys, even if at a slower rate than the former, the two organizations are working to deal with this issue at the community level.
This is the third workshop where the outcomes of the project are presented. The event was aimed at educating youth on GBV and giving them tools on how to counter GBV through the IPYG Youth Engagement & Peacebuilding Working Group (YEPW).
The IPYG YEPW aimed to address this need by helping people understand the root causes of GBV, and how people can change their mindsets to help start finding lasting solutions to the problem. After the YEPW sessions, many participants said that their view of GBV and violence, in general, was distorted by personal experience, thus affecting how they approach resolving issues. They agreed that there needs to be a change in the approach to how to deal with GBV and the goal of changing thoughts on the matter of violence is vital.
Olerato Mathodi, the founder of Volunteer Hub and a spokesperson said, “This campaign was able to raise awareness on GBV issues, but also educate more people on the issues around GBV. However, many people are already aware of how bad GBV is in Botswana; the problem is they do not feel the current systems are working. The YEPW is one area that can offer a solution to this problem.”
Addressing the reason for the gathering and the efforts that are being placed by HWPL, guest speaker Malcolm Coetzee (IPYG South Africa / Coordinator) had this to share, “Article 10 of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW), which is the document you have all been asked to support today, speaks about spreading a culture of peace. It places a responsibility on states to ensure that they are working with individuals and civil society on activities that promote peace within the communities.”