Grantee Spotlight: Unami Moatswi
In an effort to align national policy with international gender and development protocols, the Botswana government introduced a new gender policy, The National Policy on Gender and Development (NPGAD), in early 2015. Among the policy’s objectives was to address the factors that contribute to gender inequalities within Botswana and actively create environments for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Critics of the policy have raised concerns that the new policy still does not explicitly address sexual harassment, even though this topic is fundamentally important for creating a positive environment for all.
Women Deliver Young Leader Unami Moatswi saw an opportunity to contribute to the conversation about the NPGAD policy from the perspective of young women and men at the university level when a change in leadership at the University of Botswana created an opportunity for building new partnerships to address sexual harassment on campus. Recognizing the need to inform and empower both female and male students on the topic of sexual harassment and establish a safe environment for all to receive an education, Unami designed and implemented a campaign against sexual harassment called Project Unbreakable.
“Sexual harassment interferes with the right to receive an equal educational opportunity.”
- Raise awareness and initiate a dialogue about sexual harassment on campus
- Dispel misconceptions about sexual harassment
- Lobby for a comprehensive sexual harassment policy at the university level
Unami and Project Unbreakable had three main areas of focus to achieve a successful campaign against sexual harassment at the University of Botswana:
Education & Awareness
Project Unbreakable implemented 10 training sessions which brought together over 500 male and female students. When some men shared the opinion that offering ‘compliments’ to young women dressed in certain clothing was not harassment, this created opportunities to address and dispel some misconceptions about women being the cause of harassment as well as to enable men to recognize their behavior as harassment and abuse.
Advocacy & Advising
Unami focused on meeting with school management and committee members who reviewed past policies at the university in order to gain insights for moving policies forward. She met with the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Student and Academic Affairs, the President of the Student Representative Council and the Student Affairs Minister. The student representative council have a seat at the University council which adopts policies and procedures and the council was supportive of advancing the Project Unbreakable mission to students and management.
“We embarked on this project so that we could impact the sexual harassment policy. The current policy is vague and students have no access to that policy. Therefore we wanted to make recommendations on the policy before it is released for students to utilize.”
— Unami Moatswi
Unami participated in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign by speaking on two private and one national radio stations. The campaign's 2016 theme ‘From peace in the home, to peace in the world, making schools safe for learning’ fit well with Unami’s Project Unbreakable messaging and interviews centered on the discussion of dress code, the impact of sexual harassment, and reporting harassment cases.
Project Unbreakable successfully reached more than 500 university students and staff members combined. Through her engagement with the university administration, Unami had the opportunity to submit to them an outcome document from Project Unbreakable with recommendations that will influence the revised policy on sexual harassment. Unami continues to advocate for sexual harassment training to be included in the orientation program.
Unami is a Mandela Washington fellow, mentor, volunteer, and youth activist. She advocates for evidence-based solutions to address sexual and reproductive health issues, especially teenage pregnancy and HIV among young people. She is the co-founder of a non-governmental organization called Young 1ove, which has reached over 50,000 adolescents. Prior to 1ove, Unami was a member of the Young Women’s Leadership Project at the University of Botswana, where she advocated to empower young women to choose healthier lifestyles and addressed issues of gender-based violence.