THE Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (Dreams) programme recently certified 23 young Namibian women as No-Means-No instructors to train adolescent girls in techniques to protect themselves against gender-based violence (GBV).
The training strengthens self-esteem in young women and includes exercises in self-defence.
The No-Means-No instructors will play a pivotal role in addressing violence against children and GBV by demonstrating what it looks like to be empowered and confident, and to have the skills to prevent or escape violent situations.
The new instructors will provide No-Means-No training in the Khomas, Oshikoto and Zambezi regions, where Project Hope Namibia and partners have implemented the DREAMS programme.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Windhoek last Thursday, the chargé d'affaires of the United States Embassy, Jessica Long, said the training is important given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on child and GBV.
According to a Demographic Health Survey of 2013, one-in-three Namibian women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced physical violence.
Data indicate that the situation has worsened during the recent Covid-19 lockdowns, resulting in more abuse and a significant increase in teenage pregnancies.
Dreams has already enrolled more than 50 000 young women and girls in Namibia.
The programme is funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Acting USAID country representative Mark Anthony White said their organisation is committed to its work in addressing gender inequality and GBV.
"We all have a role to play, and we should support programmes that address this social ill," said White.