10 August 2012

Namibia: Women Bear Brunt of Inequality

Despite the progress made, Namibian women are still confronting an increased prevalence of HIV/AIDS, high rates of gender based-violence, baby dumping and teen pregnancies.

The continued and pervasive gender and intra-household inequalities, which are due largely to poverty, lack of employment, vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters severely affect women's sources of livelihood. In addition, the majority of women cannot access loans from financial institutions due to the lack of collateral.

This is the view of the Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW), Angelika Muharukua, who was speaking at a gender workshop on information sharing for strengthening partnerships in Windhoek on Thursday.

Muharukua added that other developmental challenges include a high maternal mortality rate and sexual exploitation of women and girls. "Women also continue to be under-represented in decision-making, both in the public and private sectors," she noted.

The aim of the workshop, which was co-sponsored by the Delegation of the European Union in Namibia, is to foster policy dialogue on gender equality and women's empowerment. Delegates expressed the hope that progress on the gender agenda will be fast-tracked in line with the revised National Gender Policy.

"Measures have been put in place to ensure equitable access to economic resources and opportunities, as well as social justice for both women and men," Muharukua said.

The revised National Gender Policy and the National Gender Plan of Action provide guiding principles for implementing gender equality programmes such as the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Millennium Development Goals among others.

The head of the Delegation of the EU in Namibia, Dr. Raul Fuentes Milani, shared Muharukua's sentiments and said that evidence worldwide proves that discrimination and violence against women and girls stubbornly persists.

Furthermore, he confirmed that the EU has been taking important steps to support greater gender equality as it is recognized as a fundamental human right and as a necessary condition for the achievement of the EU objectives of growth, full employment and social cohesion.

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