Gaborone — Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone this week paid a courtesy call on First Lady Neo Masisi to touch base on issues of mutual interest.
The minister also sought to exchange notes on areas of economic empowerment for women and girls.
Ms Masisi, who is patron for the advancement of women and girls' agenda, updated the six-person Irish delegation on her initiatives chief among them the recently launched "Nna ke Naledi". The initiative targets girls aged 8-18 with the aim of equipping them with life skills such as goal setting and self-awareness.
"My focus is on this age group because these are the formative years of the girl child and I prefer this approach instead of waiting for them to reach the youth bracket first," Ms Masisi said.
In addition, the first lady said she was looking into a sustainable way of empowering women and girls economically so that they could make independent choices with a view of breaking the cycle of societal ills.
She indicated that also in the works was collaboration with National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA), specifically working with females within the 18-24 age bracket, who had a higher HIV incidence rate.
The Botswana Impact AIDS Survey (BIAS) IV indicates that females aged 20-24 have almost three times the HIV incidence rate at 14.7 per cent compared to their male counterparts at five per cent.
For her part, Dr Zappone said her interest was in solidifying Botswana and Irish bilateral relations through cooperation in economics, agri-business and tourism.
However, she was also keen to learn about the first lady's initiatives. "I am keen to explore ways of reducing sexual and gender based violence, which we still struggle with in Ireland and we are willing to learn from you," she stated.
Regarding women and girls empowerment, Dr Zappone noted that Ireland was advanced in promoting girl power and empowerment of women across most sectors.
Ireland, she said, had just introduced an international relations policy where gender equality was one of the four priority areas.
While in Botswana, Dr Zappone also met the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Source : BOPA