Journalist Neo Kolantsho

Country/area: Botswana

Organisation: The Midweek Sun

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 14 Oct 2020

Credit: Neo Kolantsho

Project description:

The story of a young female politician who is trying to make it in the dog eat dog political space. She is bashed on a regular basis for her approach to issues of empowering women. She one of those fighting for women to be recognized, she advocates for women to be heard and even see them occupy leadership positions even at parliament level. She has been labelled a feminist, an empty vessel and a whore, Acussed of sleeping her way to the top but she remains rooted to politics. She once spent a night in a holding cell but still

Impact reached:

The story was trying to reach out to women and even men to create an environment where women can freely join politics, a field that has for the longest periods been associated with men. Kgosidintsi’s political ambitions are testimony that women are capable of joining politics, Despite the harsh environment, there is need for women to be represented at both parliament and cabinet level to enable them be part of decision making processes. During the 2019 general elections, only three women were elected to parliament, this was not a case of them losing but because only a few had contested for the elections. Despite winning and making it to parliament, female politicians are constantly bashed and ridiculed, they even cry abuse on several occassions. This is casting fear that more women will continue to shun politics, labelling it brutal and a man;s world. Kgosidintsi’s story is meant to encourage other women to fight for what they believe in and not be intimidated by obstacles encountered. Her story is also meant to inform those in power what it is they need to do better to help women rise. This comes at a time that Botswana is trying hard to achieve gender equality and do away with issues of denying women equal access to jobs, sexual violence and exploitation. Traditionally, a girl child is expected to stay home and take care of the home, cook for her husband and bear children. The story spoke to Kgosidintsi’s parents to learn how thry raised their child. Why she is so outspoken and not ‘reserved’ like women are expected to. This has also assisted other parents learn that they need to raise a confident girl child who is not afraid to speak their mind and not deemed disrespectful. not talking has resulted in women being

Techniques/technologies used:

When gathering information I conducted interviews with my story subjects. I also tried observing emotions when addressing the issue of women joining politics. I also did telephone interviews with my sources.Once the story was out it was posted/shared on social to enable it reach more people. I also researched to see what has been happening with women wanting to join politics and using that to prepare questions for the people I interviewed.

I also watched live procceedings of the daily parliamentary proceeding to get a feel of what happens in parliament and how people are responding to comments, subtractions and opinions coming from female politicians versus male politicians.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Kgosidintsi is labelled controversial. It was not easy getting her to open up and talk. She has had her own share of bashing and she is not blind to it. On several occassions she is forced to check if she is not overdoing it because she has dreams of one day becoming a leader. Although she has a bold character, she also has to stop and introspect first. Thus it was not easy for her to speak her mind, she was forced to watch her tongue or hold back information which she felt might subject her to further public scrunity. It took much convincing to get her relaxed and let her true self speak. Her parents were also skeptic to comment, wondering if they will not be opening up another can of worms by having her life splashed on newspapers like that but they understood that it might actually do them good than harm. Many people are confused when it comes to the role of media in society in Botswana, journalists are seen as enemies who are quick to splash people’s dirty linen in front pages, thus, it is very hard to do interviews locally,  just the mention of being a journalist has many walking away.

What can others learn from this project?

There is need to have more stories similar to that of Kgosidintsi out there, there is need for aggressive efforts to ensure that women are actively involved in politics. Journalists should learn to refrain from portraying women as sex objects or pretty faces and actually try engage and interview those who have newsworthy stories to share. The media should strike a balance and try divorce the notion that for a women to be successful, there has to be a man behind her. 

It is true sometimes  that women get alarmed by journalists’s choice of words and pictures used, one example is that of one female politician who was referred to as a castrated bull here in Botswana. The newspaper used a picture of a bull but used her head instead and showed the castration detail. Meaning she is behaving like a man but the only difference is that she does not have what they regarded as an important detail that defines  a man.

Moreover there is also need to have more women reporting on politics, currently there is only one or two females reporting on politics countrywide. This adds to the worrying numbers of women shunning politics while men continue to make decisions for them.

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