Namibia a Leader in Gender Equality

NAMIBIA leads the continental pack on gender equality, the recently launched Africa Gender Index (AGI) report shows.

The country is one of only three states on the continent ranked in the top 10 across the overall AGI score, based on three main indicator areas.

The African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) jointly launched the AGI report at the fourth Global Gender Summit hosted in Kigali, Rwanda, last week.

The index measures parity between men and women across three specific dimensions, namely economic, social, and representation and empowerment.

"The index focuses on measuring gender inequalities in key capabilities for elementary 'functioning', without which other aspects of human progress would be difficult to attain," the report states.

According to this report, Namibia has achieved 79,67% gender equality, which translates to an AGI score of 0,797.

The AGI is scored out of 1, where a score of 1 represents parity between women and men.

The economic dimension assesses the equality of economic opportunities, labour market participation, wages and incomes, business ownership and access to productive resources.

The social dimension measures areas such as access to and level of education, as well as health services.

Lastly, the representation and empowerment dimension looks at the extent to which women and men participate in the country's decision-making processes, politics and government.

Namibia scores well across all three dimensions.

Over the last few years, the country has been celebrated globally for its strides towards gender parity in various sectors.

As recently as December 2018, Namibia received the African Gender Award from the 'Gender is My Agenda Campaign' (Gimac) steering committee.

The committee especially punctuated the country's promotion of women's representation in key decision-making positions, as demonstrated by its parliament being 46% women.

This is in line with the conceptual 'zebra list' that the country introduced in its efforts toward achieving the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development which aims for 50/50 representation in the government and politics.

This representation contributes to Namibia's third-place ranking in the AGI report's empowerment and representation dimension. It scored 0,494 here.

It is surpassed by Rwanda, which scored 0,626 and South Africa, which scored 0,621.

Rwandan women are constitutionally required to hold at least 30% of elected positions, and 61% of their parliament is made up of women. Furthermore, 50% of the country's ministerial positions are filled by women, and four of the seven supreme court justices are women.

"Countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Uganda have taken deliberate steps through legislation and quotas to increase the number of women in political positions. [...] The global evidence shows that greater diversity amongst decision-makers matters," the report observes.

Even then, with a gender gap of 50,6% in this dimension, it is evident that Namibia still has exceptional strides to make.

In the economic dimension, the country ranks fifth, with a score of 0,792. It is preceded by Botswana, which scores 0,832, Seychelles (0,832), the Central African Republic (0,811) and Madagascar (0,795).

In the social dimension, the country ranks first, obtaining an AGI score of 1,294. It is closely followed by Lesotho, which scores 1,281, and Mauritius, which scores 1,223.

The report reveals that Africa has an average score of 48,6%, with the continental scores ranging between 24% and 79,7%.

This indicates that the continent experiences a 51,4% gender gap. Southern Africa has a gender equality score of 61,3%, the highest on the continent. Northern and eastern Africa score 51,8%, while western and central Africa score the lowest with 43,7% and 42,18%, respectively.

At the launch event of the report, chief of gender equality and women's empowerment at the African Centre for Gender, Ngone Diop stated that while the nation has made strides, it is far from achieving gender equality.

"When it comes to the African continent, there is a lack of a very comprehensive, contextualised index that could actually help African countries measure the progress they're making in implementing the regional and global gender equality and women's empowerment commitments," she said.

The index will be published every two years.

In her foreword, the director of the gender, women and civil society department at the African Development Bank, Vanessa Moungar, writes that the loss from gender inequalities is tremendous for continental wealth and each country's economic performance.

This is affirmed by the 'Power of Parity in Africa' report, which was also launched at the gender summit.

The report states that Africa could add US$316 billion or 10% to its total gross domestic product by 2025 if all countries matched the progress towards gender equality of their best-performing neighbour.

The 'Power of Parity in Africa' report, prepared by The McKinsey Global Institute, provides a better sense of the countries' more socio-economic shortcomings, as it takes a closer look at the potential boost to economic growth that could come from accelerating progress towards gender equality.

In this report, Namibia achieved a parity score of 0,72. On this scale, South Africa ranks higher with a gender parity score of 0,76.

However, the report revealed that Namibia still experiences comparatively high inequality when it comes to who holds leadership positions in the workplace, financial inclusion of women, and violence against women.

These indicators are ranked in comparison to global statistics.

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