Poverty is defined either in relative or absolute terms. According to Datta, 1995: 99, relative poverty is the deprivation in comparison to the living standards of other people who are the majority. On the other hand, absolute poverty refers to lack of minimum resources to maintain a minimum standard of living. The statistical measures used by the governments conceal so much about poverty, its extent, victims, and even the distribution. This is because mostly it is seen in economic terms such as Gross National Product or the per capita income which has been employed as the real indicator of social welfare.
However it has been noticed that this method of measurement is concealing a great deal of information on poverty e. g. the internal variation in the progress in economic development by different groups in the population. Since Botswana achieved self governance in the 1966, it has experienced rapid economic growth; poverty in the rural areas has persisted over these years. There has also been brisk development to show in terms of infrastructure, education and health development.
Botswana just like any other African country is still considered a third world country hence the endemic poverty has not escaped this southern African state considered to be having huge economic growth annually. Even though significant progress has been made in the last two decades in terms of economic growth, i. e. per capita gross domestic product increasing from 1,600 dollars in 1980 to nearly 10, 000 dollars today, most analysts argue that there is slim chances of the country halving the number of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2015.
According to the household survey done in the country in 2002/2003 the unemployment rate was 23. 8 percent. It also indicated that income inequality in Botswana also increased between 1987 and 2003 hence analyst argue that poverty is not only quite widespread but also deeply rooted because it has persisted despite growth. However according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 47% of the populations live below the poverty line, that is, they live on less than one dollar a day.
Further half of female headed households live on less than one dollar a day (Challenges 2006-7: Poverty in Botswana persists despite growth). This UNDP survey also indicate that the poorest 20% of the population get a merely 4% of the national income while the 20% richest share a whooping 60 percent of the total national income. According to McFarlan M in his paper;’ The Micro economic impact of HIV/AIDS in Botswana’, this statistics shows the high level of inequality in Botswana. That the urban- rural divide intensifies the already rampant inequality.
The further statistics shows that four out of five members of a household still depend on the income from a family member in urban and that about one-fifth of rural households do not have any income source that could be recorded (MacFarlan M et al 2001) Women education Poverty does not necessarily refer to lack of possessions or income, experts argue that it also refer to lack of skills, knowledge, understanding and empowerment. It also refers to as a household’s financial inability to meet its basic nutritional, education and shelter needs (UNICEF, 1993: 77).
Poverty hence tend to be more severe in particular groups in a society like low income groups, female- headed households, rural communities who cannot access social amenities like schools. Poverty, women and lack of education has been reported in many parts of the world, both in developed and developing countries. These uneducated female household heads are relatively younger and poorer. With lack of information and having high dependency burden, the circle of poverty continues. Poverty in Botswana has remained mainly a rural phenomenon whose bulk population are women.
The female headed households are highly affected. This trend has been a cycle where female- headed house holds whose offspring are female end up heading their own households with inherited poverty. Botswana’s rural women lack access to economic opportunities and resources. Women also have no access to opportunities in economic resource exploitations. They lack access to agricultural land and other resources like technology, employment and credit. Whenever a poverty alleviation program fails in the village, it is women who feel the pinch because they form the bulk of those who depend wholly in agriculture.