Over two decades after independence, women are still lagging behind in the full expression of their political, economic and social freedom despite the range of legislation that supports their equal footing with men.
A briefing paper on gender and politics released by Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR 2013),shows that the Government has enacted various legislations to promote women’s equality.
The Namibian constitution Article 10 of the constitution stipulates that all persons shall be equal before the law and prohibits any discrimination on ground of sex; it even makes provision for affirmative action for women, it states.
Policies such as the national gender policy, National Gender Plan of Action and ratification of the SADC protocol on Gender and development have all been enacted in Namibia.
Despite, all those policies, women entrepreneurs still feel that greater efforts are required to be made towards genuine and practical empowerment of women.
Advisor to the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Child Welfare Ambassador Tonata Itenge-Emvula stressed that she understands that women are still held behind in the business world, but noted that it might be because they are not making their voice heard nor taking full advantage of what is available.
“As women, we do not take up the opportunities presented to us fully; we are used to working in isolation instead of uniting and presenting our cases together or empower each other as women,” she said.
She argues the policies that are already in place are enough at this point if only women always enquired about their process and implementation and took advantage of it, “If women do not voice out against the slow implementation of some of those polices, government will just remain comfortable, thus, we need to be more active,” said.
Namibia Craft Centre general manager Shareen Thude corroborated her views noting that there are quite many programs and tools available for women’s empowerment, the only obstacle most of the time is the long bureaucracy that goes into completing most of the applications pertaining to the use of those tools, thus discouraging the women participation in the programs.
Senior consultant in the association of Women Entrepreneurs in Tampere (Finland) that even with a strong legislation in favour of women found in Finland, they need to keep following up on the progress and implementation of those policies.
Prominent fashion designer, Hemline founder and manager Hem Matsi, “Women are still perceived as objects only able to progress in business ranks through sex encounters, nor are we taken seriously if present at a meeting,” she said
Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) president Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun noted at the discussion on Namibian Women’s Economic empowerment organised by the Embassy of Finland that NCCI has established a women entrepreneurship desk to provide targeted services which can uplift women entrepreneurs.
“NCCI in partnership with the Federation of Finish Women Entrepreneurs embarked on a pilot capacity building project targeting women entrepreneurs in the Karas Region. That project has produced outstanding results with many women entrepreneurs finding their way into the male dominated world of business,” she said.