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Namibian Laws strongly support Women


GENDER equality minister Doreen Sioka said Namibia's legal framework “strongly promotes” women's empowerment and addresses sexual and gender-based violence.


Sioka said this at a time when Namibia continues to face a sexual and gendered violence crisis, while the National Assembly is yet to amend five bills meant to address this crisis.

Between January and August 2021, Namibia recorded close to 700 rape cases with a disproportionate impact on women and girls.

Despite this, Sioka believes that current laws which address sexual and gender-based violence are strong enough.

“Namibia's legal framework strongly promotes gender equality and women's empowerment, including addressing sexual and gender-based violence and violence against children, and advocating for the implementation of gender-responsive planning and budgeting,” she said.

According to the World Health Organisation Africa, in Namibia, one in three women experience physical and/or sexual violence, with the majority of cases perpetrated by intimate partners.

Six percent of Namibian women reported experiencing violence during pregnancy, while 15% of those who experienced violence never sought help or told anyone about the violence.

Speaking at the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women held in New York, Sioka told participants that Namibia continues to mainstream gender in the national budget.

Gender mainstreaming allows the government to ensure a gender perspective from the beginning of all policies, programs, and procedures.

However, the ministry admitted in 2019 that the national budget is not responsive to gender issues, irrespective of sex-disaggregated data available on social issues.

The ministry's deputy director of gender equality, Rosina Mubonenwa, said this when presenting the ministry's stance and progress on a gender-responsive budget at a gathering organized by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) in Windhoek.

Mubonenwa said the budget is too general and fails to explicitly state how it will address what the sex-disaggregated data on various social indicators show. In 2018, the IPPR found that few ministries fully incorporate the gender-responsive budgeting guidelines issued in 2015 by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.

Human rights activist and director of Women's Solidarity Namibia Rosa Namises told The Namibian that the legal framework in Namibia is there but it's not made friendly for women through the gender equality ministry.

“What the minister says about the framework should not be regarded as the framework, we have advocated and lobbied law reforms and those aspects have been considered in an independent Namibia.”

She added that those laws have been reviewed but the implementation falls short. “We as women activists of this country have been informed that there is a peace institute or something, but we are not involved and we do not know anything.”

“I do not know on whose behalf this peace processes and for whom this budget is there,” Names said.

Youth activist Ndiilokelwa Nthengwe disagreed with the minister's statement of the supportive legal framework participation of women at all levels.

“If this were true then we would have seen so many more women empowered as a result of a supposed strong legal framework,” Nthengwe said.

Nthengwe added that there are perhaps a nominal few women (even within the agriculture sector), who can translate for themselves the significance and meaning of environmental management and the impacts of climate change as they relate, to their gender and their sector.

Nthengwe said the reality is that we are in the process of amending pro-women bills and acts but the perceptions of women's value in society are moving at a snail's pace to shift.

“On top of that, women do not have reproductive autonomy, and this right or lack thereof, in its limitation, essentially and effectively tramples all the other laws (despite their intended impact),” she added.

“I'm curious to know how this is being tracked and against what specific outputs on a constituency and regional level,” Nthengwe said there is no clear track record or even report on how this has materialized, or the impact it has yielded in communities.

“This was clearly a lazy speech put together to fulfill a presentation duty irrespective of how incomplete it comes across, which it is,” Nthengwe said.

Regain Trust director James Ithana believes the problem of addressing challenges women face is stuck at the implementation stages.

“Our laws are quite progressive when compared to other African countries. The problem is with the implementation of these laws,” he said.

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