Protecting, educating, promoting and empowering generation equality, 25+1 years after Beijing
The story of 18-year-old Julien, who has large dreams, is the story of thousands of adolescent girls and young women in Namibia and across the African continent. Julien was just 16 when she gave birth to a baby fathered by a much older man.
“Growing up, things were not easy. We were suffering a lot. We had to rely on [good] samaritans, neighbours or family members. But then I met a man who worked as a gardener at our school. He told me that he liked me and asked me what my needs were, and started buying me things. One day, he asked me to visit him. He asked me to have sex with him and I asked him to use a condom, but he told me that he did not have one,” said Julien.
Within a few months, Julien began to feel nauseous. Her mother advised her to visit the clinic where she learned she was pregnant. “I was very sad because I wanted to finish school.”
Her situation is not unusual. According to the Namibian Police, 5,132 cases of gender based violance (GBV) against women were reported from April 2020 to March 2021, of which 21% of those were rape and sexual assault of young women.
The High Level Generation Equality virtual event co-hosted by the Government of the Republic of Namibia, Embassies of France and Mexico, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, with participation of various civil society organisations is a call to action to achieve full equality for women and girls in Namibia.
Themed “Protecting, Educating, Promoting and Empowering for Generation Equality, 25+1 Years After Beijing,” the event will bring together multi-sectoral partners and stakeholders to take stock of the progress made on gender equality commitments, women and girls’ rights, and sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) in Namibia as well as provide concrete actions to strengthen bodily
autonomy and SRHR in the country.
“The Generation Equality Forum represents an inflection point to reverse rising inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19 and drive rapid acceleration in gender equality, leadership and opportunities for women and girls around the world. Inspired by the feminist movements that shaped Beijing 26 years ago, the Forum aims to fulfil and re-energize that agenda across 7 thematic areas including Bodily Autonomy and SRHR and Women Peace and Security for which Namibia is a global Board Member,” said the UN Women Representative.
The Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Doreen Sioka encouraged men and boys to be change agents towards the achievement of gender equality: “Let our men and boys choose to challenge harmful aspects of masculinity that perpetuates gender based violence and puts women and girls at higher risk for violence. Men and boys need to choose to stand up for the rights of women and girls.”
“Promoting girls’ and women’s rights has been one of the main axes of France’s foreign policy since it was defined a feminist diplomacy in 2018; it is a great joy to have a virtual event here in Namibia echoing the Generation Equality Forum to be held in Paris,” stated the Ambassador of France in Namibia, H.E. Sébastien Minot.
“A girl or woman who has control over her body is more likely to be empowered in other spheres of her life. She gains not only in terms of autonomy, but also through advances in health and education, income and safety. She is more likely to thrive, and so is her family,” stated UNFPA Namibia Representative, Sheila Roseau.
The event took place on 28 June 2021, and is a preliminary event leading up to the Generation Equality Forum Summit being held in Paris, France from 30 June 2021 to 2 July 2021.
The Summit is an international gathering for gender equality led by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of France and Mexico with the goal to launch ambitious, concrete and transformative actions to achieve immediate as well as irreversible progress towards global gender equality.