23% of NDF soldiers women

The international relations minister has reflected on Namibia's journey in terms of contributing to the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

25 June 2019 | International

With 23% representation, Namibia is amongst the SADC countries with the highest proportion of women in its defence force.

This is according to deputy prime minister and international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who was speaking at the launch of the National Action on Women, Peace and Security 2019 to 2024 last week.

Nandi-Ndaitwah reflected on Namibia's journey in terms of contributing to the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, and prospects for the future.

She said 19 years ago, under the presidency of Namibia, the United Nations adopted resolution 1325.

“A landmark resolution that not only changed the face of women in conflict and post conflict situations, but also recognised and reaffirmed the crucial role women play in these situations.”

Since the adoption of resolution 1325, eight other resolutions have been adopted, all speaking to the role of women in the prevention and management of conflict as well as their roles in post-conflict peace-building.

“These now form what is known as the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The UN Security Council has since 2000 deliberated on WPS on an annual basis and the principle of women's participation in peace processes is now accepted as fundamental to building sustainable peace.”

In addition, member states are urged to implement this resolution by putting in place national action plans (NAPs), said Nandi-Ndaitwah.

She said the absence of a national action plans on the WPS Agenda has not deterred Namibia's commitment to the implementation of the agenda and realising the larger pursuit of gender equality.

According to her Namibia has demonstrated the political will to create gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the security sector, preventing violence against women.

To date, various policies and legislative frameworks have been enacted, such as the Defence Policy (2010), the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan (2000-2005) and the National Gender Policy (2010-2020), among others.

“These frameworks and policies have translated into tangible gains for women in decision-making and in the security sector.”

Nandi-Ndaitwah said these gains are not enough and there is more work to be done, not just nationally, but continentally and globally.

According to her this was proven in a 2015 global study, which revealed that the implementation of the WPS Agenda is still lagging and many more countries still need to adopt NAPs and implement them, “as having a plan that is not implemented is just as good as having no plan”.

According to her the development of a NAPs enables direct and sustained attention to mainstreaming gender into the peace and security sector, to track and collate gender-disaggregated data for women in the peace and security sector and monitor and evaluate the implementation of the WPS Agenda. Nandi-Ndaitwah said the process of developing the Namibian NAP was a holistic and comprehensive one.

A national task team was constituted, consultative meetings were held with key relevant institutions and nationwide consultations were undertaken before the drafting process began. Subsequently, the NAP was validated by stakeholders from the key relevant institutions before being submitted to Cabinet for approval.

“It was necessary to have a comprehensive process because the NAP also needed to confront emerging issues, trends and threats to peace and security such as climate change, cybersecurity, radicalisation and trafficking in persons amongst others.”

The NAP delineates nine priority areas, with the overall aim of strengthening the influence of women and their meaningful participation in peace processes, including in peace negotiations and mediation, as well as in broader peace-building and state-building.

ELLANIE SMIT

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