Gender equality not only where gender violence is rampant but everywhere
“Gender equity has to be promoted beyond the public sector to cover all segments of society, beyond representation in leadership positions, to permeate all aspects of human endeavour, if we are to realize its benefits,” said the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
Though strides have been made in Namibia and globally, much work still needs to be done to achieve full gender equality. Tangible ways to achieve this and to empower women and young people were the focus of discussions at a high-level event on Generation Equality, ahead of the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, France last week. Gender equality and women and youth empowerment are viewed as critical to achieve the 2030 Development Agenda.
Protecting and educating
To achieve ‘Generation Equality’, more work needs to be done, said Sen Pang, Resident Coordinator for the UN in Namibia. “Over the past 25 years, tremendous progress has been made on gender equality. However, that progress is uneven. In many parts of the world, women and girls are still subjected to gender inequalities and harmful practices, with limited access to health, education and political participation. Gender violence against women and girls is still a widespread and persistent global issue.”
Namibia is no exception. From April 2020 to March 2021, more than 5000 cases of gender violence against women were reported, of which 21% were rape and sexual assault of young women, according to the Namibian Police crime statistics.
Gender inequality also impacts women and girls’ right to dignity, as Hon Emma Theofelus, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, pointed out. “General taboos and negative perceptions around menstruation continue to be widespread and this exacerbates gender inequality,” she said.
UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, and partners are working to prevent gender violence and improve the response to sexual violence as well as improve menstrual health for girls and women.
UNFPA supported implementation of the National Gender Strategy and the First Lady’s #BreakFree movement, as well as prioritized gender-responsive interventions during COVID-19. The government recently repealed tax on menstrual hygiene products, while UNFPA has distributed more than 17,000 dignity kits to vulnerable women and girls across the country.
State of World Population report:
UNFPA’s flagship report, “State of World Population 2021: My Body is My Own – Claiming the Right to Autonomy and Self Determination” was launched at the event by Dr Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, and UNFPA Namibia’s Country Representative, Sheila Rosseau.
“Bodily autonomy means having the power and agency to make choices over one’s body and future without violence, without coercion or discrimination. Fundamentally, it is about the power to decide. It’s about the power of choice,” said Dr Onabanjo.
The event, which attracted close to 100 participants, was co-hosted by the Namibian Government, the Embassies of France and Mexico, UNFPA, UN Women, and civil society organizations.
The Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila (right) and the UNFPA Regional Director for Southern Africa, Dr Julitta Onabanjo.