Namibia: Rural Women Strive for Empowerment, Independence

22 September 2021

WOMEN from various walks of life recently gathered at the Rural Women's Assembly at Braunfels at Khorixas to discuss their hardships and to promote rural women's empowerment.

Maureen Hoës (36), who owns a small meat shop and garden at farm Dimba near Tywfelfontein, at the event said she needs a piece of land to expand her garden.

"I support three children, and on top of that I support three relatives' households. It's too hard," she said.

"We have been under men's rule for long. We have been mistreated for too long. Doing something for yourself is great and can change your life," she said.

Elizabeth Doëses, who owns Tharos Trading CC which renovates furniture at Khorixas and surrounds, said she saw the need to open such a business, but lacks support from locals due to Covid-19.

"The challenge I have is to order materials from outside. It is expensive, which makes it hard for locals to pay," the businesswoman, who also wants to start offering training courses, said.

Sophia Awases from farm Môrewag, an unemployed mother of three children, said she is a small-scale farmer who used to auction her livestock twice a year, but cannot do so any more due to the prevailing drought.

"I want to focus more on my garden, but water is far from the garden. If I had a water tank it would be easier, as I want to plant more vegetables, which I can sell to locals and lodges in the area. I also want to donate my produce to locals," she said.

Magreth Opue !Hoaes (61) from farm Malendrus said a woman's pride lies in what she does for her community.

"I have a small garden at the farm, but there is no water in the well. With the little water available I water my vegetables and assist the locals, but if the water issue is resolved, I could sell the produce and get an income," she said.

Christina Nameya (45), who stays at farm Tsawises Pos, said she has a small shop and garden.

"I frequently come to Khorixas to take care of my son, who is in school here, while the shop and the garden are under my sisters' care at the farm," she said.

Nameya too struggles with a lack of water and wants to expand her garden to sell more vegetables so that she can support her daughter, who attends a college at Walvis Bay.

"I can only afford to pay rent, taxi fare and buy my daughter food. Our government loan has been declined, so it's hard," Nameya said.

Yvonne !Howaes, regional coordinator of the Rural Women's Assembly in the southern Kunene region, said: "The gathering took place to strengthen the voices of women in advocating better services for rural women."

She said the event aims to build relationships and improve rural women's ability to self-organise.

It also focuses on promoting alternatives in supporting sustainable food sovereignty, improving rural livelihoods, securing land tenure, promoting indigenous knowledge, and improving fair marketing practices.

Slyvia !Aebes, the chairperson of the Rural Women's Assembly for the Braunfels area, said the gathering was fruitful and empowering.

Julien /Uises was elected as vice chairperson, Renovia Karimbue as treasurer, with Liza Somaes as deputy treasurer, while Ghendy !Hoaes was elected as secretary.

Additional members are Erna #Ouses and Mina Tjikongo.

The Rural Women's Assembly is a self-organised network of rural women's movements, assemblies, and grassroots organisations across eight countries in southern Africa.

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