Botswana - Social development

The first universal pension program was inaugurated in Botswana in 1996. It covers all citizens aged 65 and older, and is funded completely by the government. It pays a flat-rate monthly pension. A 1963 law requires employers in certain areas to provide designated medical services to employees and their families and to provide maternity benefits consisting of 25% of wages for the 6 weeks preceding and following childbirth. Many social welfare needs are met through the provisions of tribal custom. A law requiring employers to obtain private worker's compensation insurance was introduced in 1977 and provides temporary benefits for the disabled, totaling two-thirds of regular wages. In addition, there is a permanent disability benefit consisting of a lump sum payment equal to 60 months' earnings—the workers' compensation program also includes medical benefits and a survivor benefit. After 60 months of continuous employment, a severance unemployment benefit is also available.

Traditional views of male dominance are pervasive in Botswana. Customary law allows men to physically punish their wives for wrongdoings and spousal abuse is common. Sexual harassment, rape, and other violence against women is widespread. Women are accorded the same civil rights as men, but under traditional marriage laws, they require their husbands' consent to buy or sell property, obtain a loan, or sign a contract. There are legal provisions, however, that allow women to marry "out of common property" and thereby retain their legal rights. Polygamy is legal, but is not widely practiced.

While ethnic minorities are not subject to discrimination, some groups remain marginalized and underrepresented in government. Human rights are generally respected in Botswana. However, there are still reports of abusive police tactics, and prison conditions remain poor.

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