New Era (Windhoek)

10 March 2014

Namibia: Men in Stilettos March Against GBV

Windhoek — In order to demonstrate their support against gender-based violence (GBV) hundreds of men, the majority of whom wore high heels while a few featured in feminine attire such as mini-skirts and long dresses, on Saturday protested against the violence that has skyrocketed in recent months.

The 'Walk a Mile in Her Shoes' campaign that coincided with International Women's Day saw men bravely sporting heels and skirts to demonstrate in Independence Avenue, with the protest march starting from the offices of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and ending at Zoo Park in the city centre.

Hilarious as it was for some women and men to see men limping in heels of all sizes, shapes and colours the men who hailed from all walks of life meant business and their core message and desire were to see an end to the violence perpetrated against women and children.

Dressing up in heels and dresses was meant to demonstrate to men how it feels to be a woman, at least to a certain degree. Though many thought it would be easy walking in high heels, they admitted that it was no walk in the park but if that sent a message against gender-based violence it was worth it, they felt.

Pinehas Iipinge one of the men who bravely walked the mile in high heels told New Era: "When I wore the heels I thought it would be easy and that it's just about putting on the heels and walking. But when I started walking I realised it's hard and I had to strategise how I should walk. I had to watch every step I took and watch where I walked. Now my ankles are hurting and my feet are hurting but I want to keep it up and I am going to keep them on in support of women."

Gender-based violence is a subject very close to his heart, Iipinge said, adding that every time it is reported in the media that a woman was killed or abused he immediately thinks what if it's his sister, friend, cousin or niece.

Lenga Mwelwa said it was painful walking in heels. "I feel I experienced what it's like to be a woman and I feel women should be respected. It was painful, it was long but I'm hoping that there will be change," said Mwelwa.

"I just hope that men realise what women have to go through," said Yanick Ranca. Though he did not wear heels or feminine attire, Ranca said he hoped there would be a change in society and that violence perpetrated against women and children would come to an end. "Women should not be seen as objects but rather as subjects that we as men can study and understand in order to pass the test," Ranca added.

And indeed, the men made sure that the walk was not a lousy one as they chanted slogans denouncing gender-based violence. Some were daring enough to also dance in the heels without seemingly breaking their ankles. "I'm really touched seeing there are men out there who are really against gender-based violence," a young woman Gay Kay Kahuika said.

Ret. Major-General Charles Namoloh, the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development was impressed that men came out in support against gender-based violence.

"This means that we are men enough to walk a mile in women's shoes. We are man enough to share the pain our women are subjected to every day. We are man enough to stand against those men who are attacking and killing defenceless women," he said.

Ambassador Tonata Itenge-Emvula, Special Advisor to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare who delivered a speech on behalf of Minister Rosalia Nghidinwa commended the men for walking a mile in heels and urged the men to go out of their way to do house chores to have a sense of what it feels like to be a woman.

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