Women head 44% of Namibia’s households … as world celebrates international women’s day

While women make up the majority (51%) of the total population (2.3 million), permanent secreaty at the gender, equality and child welfare ministry, Valencia Uiras has said 44% of the households are being single handedly led by them.

In spite of this, women’s population leads in the unemployment rate of the country (38%) compared to their male counterparts (30%), statistics that show the burden women continue to shoulder in Namibia.

She made these revelations at the celebration of the International Women’s Day yesterday, a day that celebrates the roles made by women from all walks of life despite their national boundaries, cultural, social status, colour, race and their political differences.

Unemployment is particularly acute for rural women and women who are unemployed tend to be out of work longer than men who are unemployed, she said.

In 2016, 51% of males aged 15 and above were working, compared to 41% of females,

On top of their roles and the unemployment burden, the average expectancy rate for Namibia is 65.1% but for women it is 67.1% and men 65.1%, which translates to the fact that they live longer than men.

The country continues to be celebrated for the many achievements that have been realised as far as advancing the case for women in all economic, political and social sectors.

“We have a parliament that evolved from only having five women in our 1st National Assembly (1990-1994) to 48 women in our 6th National Assembly (2015-2020) showing a 46% of the current National Assembly,” she said.

The proportion of women in parliament is currently 40% percent compared to Namibia’s first parliament at only 6%.

Uiras said this achievement has resulted in the ranking of Namibia among the top African countries which advanced women in politics and decision-making structures.

She pointed out that Namibia also scored well on the 2016 global gender gap index of 0.765 ranking 14th out of 144 countries.

“In addition, for the first time in the history of the ruling SWAPO Party, recently elected a female Vice President of the Party,” she said.

Free education has resulted in increased access to education for both boys and girls.

Uiras said gender parity in enrolment for female students at institutions of Higher Learning is being realized and in some instances has far exceeded the enrolment of male students.

“For example in 2017 enrolment for female students at Namibia University for Science and Technology (NUST) stood at 50,3% compared to 49.7% male students and University of Namibia (UNAM) female enrolment figures stood at 65% as compared to males at 35%.”

“This scenario could be attributed to large numbers of females enrolled in female dominated fields of study such as Nursing and Education. We are however not seeing significant increase of enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” she added.

Uiras suggested that gender parity should not be about only counting women, but making women count.

To that end, Namibia has recently celebrated the appointment of one of its one numbers, Advocate Bience Gawanas and Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, to senior roles in the United Nations system by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.

In the business space, Uiras said between 2006 and 2013, approximately 33% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Namibia had female participation in ownership.

Above that, 27% of firms in Namibia had a female top manager, compared with 16% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We currently have 29.4% of female permanent Secretaries and 41% of deputy permanent secretaries whilst directors stand at 42% and deputy directors at 48%. Only 20% are holding the role of CEOs but we are seeing a significant increase in appointment of females on the board of directors where we currently stand at 49.5%,” she said.

In the judicial space, Namibia currently has 75% women registrars of the court, 33% presidents of the courts, 20.8% judges and 49.5% magistrates.

To further demonstrate the political will for women inclusivity in all sectors, Namibia championed the adoption of UN resolution 1325 and is in the process of finalizing its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security aimed at effective coordination of programmes and activities relating to WPS amongst all stakeholders.

“It is however still important that we continue to account for every woman and girl and my call to us all is ensure that we collect disaggregated data to account for every women and girls making,” Uiras said.