Windhoek — Hundreds of Namibians from all walks of life, and members of the international community gathered at the historic Old Location cemetery in Pionierspark yesterday to commemorate Namibia Women's Day, which coincided with International Human Rights Day.
The day was commemorated under the theme "My Voice Counts", which President Hifikepunye Pohamba said was to recognise the voices of the many women who are not heard.
"We are gathered here today to commemorate an important day in the history of our nation, a day that is dedicated toward honouring women in recognition of their vital role in our glorious struggle for national liberation, and their immense contribution to nation building,"Pohamba said.
Pohamba said during the events of December 10, 1959, women were at the forefront when the South African apartheid regime forcefully put down a protest, killing several people. The protest was over the removal of people from the Old Location to what is known today as Katutura.
"Among them was Anna Kakurukaze Mungunda, who stood out as a courageous and brave woman. When the police opened fire on the demonstrators, she was shot and killed in cold blood on that day," Pohamba said, adding that several other people were also killed and others wounded.
The president further said given the cruelty that women endured during the struggle for national liberation, and especially on December 10, 1959, Namibia should continue to honour and pay deserving tribute to the women and men who placed their lives on the line for the freedom of the country.
He was, however, disturbed that government efforts to protect the rights of women and to promote their empowerment are being hindered by crime and acts of violence against women, by their male counterparts.
"Unfortunately, too often, women become victims of brutal crimes and violence perpetuated by men," he said.
"It is a matter of grave concern that in Namibia, violence against women, including elderly women and little girls, has become disturbingly too common, extreme and brutal. This is totally unacceptable and must be stopped," he said.
Pohamba said the criminal justice system needs to be bolstered for it to deal firmly with the perpetrators of crime, especially crimes against women, girls and other vulnerable groups in society.
"We must continue to enforce the laws and implement the policies aimed at advancing the rights and interests of Namibian women and empowering them to fully participate in the economic and social development of our society," he said.
Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma, Dr Hage Geingob, the Prime Minister of Namibia, Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Xin Shunkang, Khomas Governor, Laura McLeod-Katjirua and some government ministers attended the event.