Gender parity a priority – Geingob

In the spirit that 'no Namibian must feel left out', President Hage Geingob acknowledged that poverty eradication is not possible if the female population is left behind.

27 February 2020 | Government

Namibia has prioritised gender parity as a means of addressing historical imbalances and injustices towards women.

This is according to President Hage Geingob, who was speaking at the opening of the 10th Pan African Women's Organisation (Pawo) congress in Windhoek.

Geingob said in the spirit of 'no Namibian must feel left out', the country recognises that poverty eradication is not possible if the female population is left behind.

“Women constitute half of our population, and in this regard, Namibia has benefited from the Swapo Party's internal reform of its party list system to include 50/50 representation of men and women.”

He pointed out that the top four positions in the Namibian government also reflect the 50/50 representation, with a female prime minister and a female deputy PM.

Geingob said women in government occupy strategic portfolios such in international relations and higher and lower education.

“We also have several women deputy ministers in key ministries as well as other key decision-making positions. Our parliament comprises of 46% women. Our advances in promoting the empowerment of women have not gone unnoticed.”

The congress is taking place from 26 to 28 February under the theme 'Accelerate African Women's Action Towards Achieving Sustainable Economic Development Within the Context of the UN Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063'.

According to Geingob, he received the African Excellence Award for Gender in 2018 and last year the African Gender Index ranked Namibia amongst the top three countries promoting parity between men and women in terms of economic and social advancement, representation and empowerment.

“This speaks to the fact that in Namibia we do not pay lip service to women's empowerment. Instead, we implement it.”

He further said that the national gender policy has been of paramount importance in developing the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for 2019 to 2024. This plan enables direct and sustained attention to mainstreaming gender issues into the peace and security sector.

The head of state said Namibia is in the process of establishing an International Women's Peace Centre, which will focus on national, regional and international conflict resolutions and management activities, as well as aspects of mediation and negotiation.

“Women empowerment can no longer be a dream but a reality. Women empowerment can no longer be a goal but a daily practice. We must no longer talk of women empowerment but we must walk the path of women empowerment.”

Geingob also elaborated on the special symbolism of the 10th Pawo congress.

He said the congress is being held in a year that is highly significant.

“The year 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, a women's advancement blueprint to which the women of Africa have made a significant contribution.”

He said it will also mark the 75th anniversary of the formation of the United Nations.

“These events are taking place at a time when the world has realised that only by investing in women economic empowerment can we achieve gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth.”

Geingob said that given the prominent role played by Pawo in advocating for women's empowerment in Africa, on 21 February 2019 the African Union (AU) signed an agreement with Pawo recognising it as a specialised agency of the AU.

This is in line with the January 2018 decision of the AU Heads of State and Government to align 50/50 gender parity in the AU workforce by 2025, he said.

Geingob added it is crucial that the activities of Pawo are geared towards empowering women, giving them the initiative to become productive and healthy citizens of Africa, and in so doing, entrust them to safeguard their survival and that of the entire African family.

“In the same vein, let us not forget that the girl-child is the African woman of tomorrow. Therefore, her needs and aspirations should be integral to the activities of Pawo. Equally, youth should be empowered in order for the continent to benefit from their vast and untapped potential.”

ELLANIE SMIT

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