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Role of Women in Society
The Relationship between customary law and Human Rights

Any law reform project in Botswana must take account of the fact that Botswana is a dual legal system (the common law exists side by side with customary law). In practice, the majority of Batswana are subject to customary law. Customary law courts administer about 80% of cases in the country excluding those resolved by mechanisms not formally recognised under the Customary Courts Act.

While customary law is said to reflect customs, culture and the way of life of particular tribes, it is also true that it may contain and or tolerate practices, which are antithetical to human rights including the rights of PLWHA. These include such practices as domination of women by men, inheritance principles that favour male children etc.

From a legal point of view, customary law is inferior and subject to other sources of law in the country. The definition of customary law includes only those “rules of law which by custom are applicable to any particular tribe or tribal community in Botswana”, but exclude those rules, which are inconsistent with provision of any enactment. Similarly customary rules that are “contrary to morality, humanity and natural justice are excluded from qualifying as customary law. The Chieftainship Act for its part provides that customary law must not be “injurious to the welfare of members or repugnant to the constitution and or any other enactment.” The general presumption in Botswana as regards the applicable law is that the common law is applicable unless the relevant personal law, agreement, or intention suggests the application of customary law.

Young Women Christian Association (YWCA)

The YWCA mission is to empower women and youth and work towards the elimination of all obstacles that hinder holistic development(spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical).

The association's main key areas of operation are:

  • Education Centre for Adolescent Women (Teen Mothers)
  • Peer Approach to Counseling (PACT)
  • Day Care Centre

You can contact the YWCA at:

The National Executive Director

Plot 5350/1/2 Ext 10 Church Road

P. O. Box 359 Gaborone

Tel: + 267 3974113

Fax: + 267 3957783

Grapple Plant Harvesting
The grapple plant (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a medicinal herb traded internationally for remedies against joint inflammation, arthritic disorders and other ailments. The species distribution is limited to the countries of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. In Botswana its commercial utilization started in the 1970s, whilst the traditional use may go thousands of years back. The grapple plant harvesting season starts from 1st April to 31st October every year. Every year, the majority of individual harvesters are women. Only the plants’ succulent carrot shaped tubers are extracted and utilized, which are afterwards sliced and dried in the sun on clear material but not on the bare ground. As mainly women are traditionally responsible for the management and harvesting of plants in their communities, they should be targeted for any training activity in regards to management and monitoring of veld products.