Experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Congratulate Namibia on the adoption of its First National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, and Ask Questions about Gender Parity in Politics and Early Marriage
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today concluded its review of the sixth periodic report of Namibia, congratulating the State party on the adoption of its first national action plan on women, peace, and security 2019-2024, and asking questions about gender parity in politics and early marriage.
A Committee Expert congratulated Namibia on the adoption of its first national action plan on women, peace, and security 2019-2024, which was seen as complementary to the other mechanisms and frameworks for women’s rights.
Another Expert congratulated the State party on ranking twelfth in the world when it came to the representation of women in parliament but noted that only 23 percent of cabinet ministers were female. What was being done to increase this figure? How did the State plan to increase the number of women elected in regional elections? Was anything being done to introduce mandatory quotas for all parties, beyond the majority party?
A Committee Expert congratulated the delegation on the child marriage research study, asking whether the State party planned to implement the recommendations. How would it be ensured that girls who had already entered early marriage continued to build on their unique possibilities? Were there plans to ensure minimum marital age of 18 with no loopholes?
Responding to questions, Doreen Sioka, Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare of Namibia and head of the delegation, said the aim was to achieve 50/50 gender parity in the upcoming 2024 elections. The issue of regional councils was tough; women in rural areas tended to favor men in their votes. Women’s representation in the national council was very low; of the 14 regions, over half had no women’s representation, which was concerning. The delegation was pushing for change in the electoral law and believed quotas would help this problem. However, the process was slow. Advocacy and lobbying for change were key routes being taken to address this issue.
On early marriage, the delegation said that the age of consent and the age of marriage was currently in conflict with each other, which was why a revision of the act was required. Married children needed to be empowered in terms of formal schooling, life skills, and sexual reproductive health. The Government aimed to empower girls who were already married and to come up with measures to educate girls on child marriage, while still respecting their right to culture and tradition.
Ms. Sioka, presenting the report, said Namibia had made great strides in ensuring that all persons were treated equally. However, the country continued to face socio-economic challenges, which included escalating cases of gender-based violence, sexual violence, isolated cases of harmful cultural practices, and gender stereotypes. Namibia launched a mass media campaign, aimed at creating awareness and effecting behavioral change on gender-based violence among men and women, deployed through mass media and interpersonal communication. The Namibian Government was conducting awareness campaigns targeting traditional and religious leaders on positive gender roles and the elimination of harmful cultural practices.
The delegation of Namibia was comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare; the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation; the Ministry of Health and Social Services; the Chief Development Planner for Gender; and the Permanent Mission of Namibia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Sioka thanked the Chairperson and the members of the Committee, and the delegation, stating that she felt very proud and that the advice of the Committee was greatly appreciated.
Gladys Acosta Vargas, Committee Chair, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue, which allowed the Committee to better understand the progress made for women in Namibia.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s eighty-second session is being held from 13 June to 3 July. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at https://media.un.org/en/webtv.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3:45 p.m. on Monday, 20 June for an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations to discuss the situation of women in the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Mongolia, and Bolivia, whose reports will be reviewed next week.