* 6th African Military Law Forum tackles this sore point

Among the major command challenges such as discrimination and victimisation of women in the military, the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is grappling with the issue of equity.

Speaking during the 6th African Military Law Forum held in Gaborone BDF Commander Lieutenant General Placid Segokgo said they are determined to realign the patriarchal background of “our Defence Forces to factor in contemporary gender equality developments”.

He said this is being done in order for “our officers and other ranks” to have comfort in military service and to “compete for advantages and opportunities” without fear that gender orientation is an obstacle.

Lt. Gen Segokgo explained that as a precursor to the main event (6th African Military Law Forum), a Women Military Professional Legal Network was held on the 6th of August 2022, at which matters of gender integration in the sphere of Women, Peace and Security were discussed.

Speaking at the same Forum, Defence and Security minister Kagiso Mmusi asserted that Botswana is committed to and duly embraces an arrangement that seeks to accord women equal opportunities for growth and development.

He said it was for this reason that Botswana took a deliberate decision in 2007 to commission women into the officer ranks of its Defence Force, subsequent to which it enlisted members of the lower ranks.

He said he is aware that most militaries have also done the same, some long before Botswana even started.

According to the minister, the exercise in Botswana remains work in progress as it is clear that both gender counterparts still experience challenges at this development in terms of existing practice and policy provisions.

Mmusi was happy that the conference was preceded by a Women Military Professional Legal Network meeting, a platform for women professionals in African militaries convened with a specific objective to come up with a plan of action to be sold to superior military authorities around the continent on women, peace and security.

“This, I am also told is to facilitate smooth integration of women into the military”, Mmusi told the three days forum, held under the theme: 'The Legal Dynamics in Preparing the Force and execution of military operations.'

He appreciated that the forum intends to grow into a governing body and a consultative platform for lawyers and other legal professionals across the continent to seek guidance from their colleagues.

According to Mmusi, it is their expectations as political leadership across the globe that a forum of this nature should generate actionable recommendations and solutions to problems and give direction from a military law point of view that can benefit African Militaries.

He said that the government of Botswana emphatically underscores the importance of respecting the statutory authorities and the Rule of Law.

And to demonstrate this respect for the Rule of Law, he cited that even in the administration of “our military affairs”, Botswana in collaboration with the United States Africa Command have committed and invested resources for the success of this conference.