Ambassador Van Vranken’s Remarks at the Dikgosi GBV Training During the 16 Days of Activism

December 5, 2023

As prepared for delivery

  • Attorney General’s Chambers State Counsel, Ms. Thandi Chuma (Tha-n-di Chu-ma)
  • Attorney General’s Chambers Assistant Secretary for Legislative Drafting, Ms. Kelebileng Kokoro (Kele-bile-ng Ko-ko-ro)
  • Esteemed Dikgosi from Mogoditshane, Gaborone and Tlokweng
  • U.S. Mission colleagues

Dumelang! Good afternoon.
It is my pleasure to engage with you today. We are here to discuss an important yet difficult subject: gender-based violence.

This is a problem across the world and affect both of our countries. The World Health Organization estimates that one in three women globally is subjected to physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetimes, and as of 2023, more than 640 million women and girls were married before the age of 18. According to the Botswana National Relationship Study (NRS), conducted by the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs in 2018, 37% of women and 21% of men in Botswana have experienced some form of GBV in their lifetime, including Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), while 12% of women and 30% of men have abused their partner.

Harassment, threats, and abuse directed at women and girls affect countless aspects of their lives, from mental and physical health to their ability to pursue an education and work opportunities. Gender-based violence is a significant barrier to civic, social, political, legal, and economic participation for women and girls.

This training forms part of the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to the people and Government of Botswana to address gender-based violence. Other activities we support include positive masculinity discussions with young boys, training for service providers to strengthen service delivery, support to adolescent girls and young women through the DREAMS program by delivering HIV and GBV prevention sessions, and social media campaigns to raise awareness.

It is my understanding that as Dikgosi, you form an integral part of a government leadership structure to uphold the principles of peace, safety, discipline, and respect at the community level in partnership with your local stakeholders. This training is meant to support the work that you do daily as you come across survivors of gender-based violence as well as perpetrators. Your mediation and leadership role are recognized and respected within the communities. This training is intended to provide you with additional support as you lead gender-based violence prevention and response efforts. Furthermore, your support to survivors in understanding the Domestic Violence Act is key to enable them to seek justice. I truly appreciate your willingness to be here today, to engage and learn from one another to support your communities to address this issue.

In closing, I would like to assure you that the U.S. government remains deeply committed to ending this scourge of violence. We will continue to support Botswana in exploring ways to tackle the challenges of gender-based violence. Everyone has a role to play in protecting women’s and girls’ fundamental right to safety. Thank you for the work you do to help lead your communities to address this critical issue.