Windhoek — Although there has been progress in achieving gender equality, the country needs to do more against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), President Hage Geingob determines.
The President said in the observance of International Women's Day on Friday. GBV is generally accepted as one of the most urgent issues facing Namibian society and policymakers. It has been long acknowledged that Namibia has a high rate of GBV, with latest cases of prevalent rape, passion killing and other forms of related violence being reported in Namibia. It is a human rights issue of endemic proportions in Namibia.
One out of three women have experienced, or will experience, GBV in their lifetime. Furthermore, it is estimated that one out of five women are in an abusive relationship.
According to Sister Namibia, the two most common forms of GBV in Namibia are domestic violence and rape, both of which disproportionately affect Namibian women more than men (over 90 percent). Presidential Press Secretary, Dr Alfredo Hengari, on Friday said the President recognises the efforts Namibia has made over the past three decades in working towards the goal of gender equality. Hengari quoted Geingob emphasising the need to work harder to ensure gender equality and mobilising efforts to fight against GBV. Geingob noted that International Women's Day invites everyone to reflect on the journey Namibia has travelled in achieving the goal of gender equality.
Further, he said the day also reminds Namibians about the efforts made since independence, calling on all to renew their commitments to gender equality, and fight the scourge of gender-based violence. As a nation, Geingob maintained Namibia has consolidated equality, including that of women in the nation's laws. Article 10 of the Namibian Constitution, states that "All persons shall be equal before the law and no persons may be discriminated against on grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status".
The Head of State explained the protection of rights, contained in the Namibian Constitution is reinforced by the Married Persons Equality Act, which ensures that aspects of common and customary law on marriage are in line with the Constitution.
"Our gender policies and plans of action are fully geared towards the empowerment of women. The empowerment of women is a human right and not a favour. Even if we should do more, I am satisfied that women continue to play a leading role in business, sports and politics, including in our Executive and Legislature," Geingob noted. He said government have been able to increase the participation of women in the Legislature when the ruling Swapo Party took a principled decision at the 1997 Congress by passing a resolution to increase the proportion of female delegates to the party's congress up to 50 percent. He added that all their efforts must continue to be centred on the empowerment and education of the girl-child, saying education is the greatest equaliser, and is also a powerful weapon in the fight against the undesirable feminisation of poverty.
Namibia has adopted the National Gender Policy and two plans of action, the National Gender Plan of Action and the National Gender Based Violence Plan of Action, which are aligned to regional and continental instruments, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Protocol on Gender and Development, the Maputo Protocol and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa.
Geingob said in recognition of its progress on gender equality, the country currently holds the award by the African Gender Forum for the top performing country in Africa as part of the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC).