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Namibia’s Ability To Empower Women A Mixed Bag …adolescent birth rate and inactive female youth lower the country’s rating

By: Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus

Namibia scored 0.617 out of 1.000 in the Women Empowerment Index (WEI), thus being classified as a ‘Lower-middle women’s empowerment country’ out of the 114 countries assessed.

In terms of the Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI), the country has scored 0.856 out of 1.000.

This is according to a new global report launched by UN Women and UNDP titled, The Paths To Equal: Twin Indices on women’s Empowerment and gender equality.
The WEI and the GGPI are designed as twin indices to be used together to provide a more complete picture of countries’ paths to women’s empowerment and gender equality.

The WEI is a composite index measuring women’s empowerment in five dimensions, namely life and good health (including bodily integrity); education, skill-building, and knowledge; labour and financial inclusion; participation in decision-making; and freedom from violence.

Namibia’s performance has been dragged down by the country’s adolescent birth rate, that is the number of births to women ages 15–19 per 1,000 which stood at 63.1%
While the country’s percentage of women ages between 15–24 who are not in employment and not in education or training stood at 34.3% out of the country’s staggering number of youth.

The other statistical indicator that dragged down Namibia’s performance is the population of females with completed secondary education or higher of the ages 25 and older which stood at 22.3%.

The country is also not doing well in the proportion of ever-married or partnered women ages 15–49, reported to having been subjected to one or more acts of physical violence or sexual violence, or both, by a current or former husbands or male intimate partners within the 12 months preceding the survey.

At least 16% of those surveyed have encountered physical or sexual violence or both from their partners.

The country has however performed very well as 83% of women of reproductive age need for family planning is satisfied with modern methods.

The assessment has also revealed the country has a 43,6% share of managerial positions held by women, expressed as a percentage of total managerial positions.

In terms of making decisions in the country, the share of seats in parliament held by women in the national parliament expressed as a percentage of total seats, stood at 35.6%.

In the overall WEI, only two African countries are ranked high, with Mauritius topping, followed by Namibia and South Africa.

The GGPI, is a composite index that shows the status of women’s achievements relative to men’s in four dimensions of human development, namely life and good health; education, skill-building, and knowledge; labour and financial inclusion; and participation in decision-making.

In the GGPI, Namibia women are one of the top achievers with the country being in the category of high performance in achieving gender parity- and together with South Africa, they are the only African countries in this category.

The WEI and GGPI are calculated using data available as of 31 March 2023, unless otherwise noted.

Globally, women are empowered to achieve, on average, only 60% of their full potential, as measured by the WEI and achieve, on average, 28 percent less than men across key human development dimensions, as measured by the GGPI.

According to the UN team, “this suggests that women’s and girls’ empowerment will remain elusive until gender gaps are eliminated”.
It is the first UN gender index to include violence against women and girls as a standalone dimension, while the Global Gender Parity Index assesses the gender gap across four dimensions of human development: health, education, inclusion, and decision-making.

Together, they provide a more complete picture of countries’ progress towards women’s empowerment and gender equality.

The world is at a critical crossroads currently with multiple and interlinked global crises, including continuing and new violent conflicts, intensifying societal polarisation, climate change, and the rise in disasters caused by natural hazards, as well as the ongoing cost-of-living crisis emanating from the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated women’s disadvantages.

The global community was already off track to achieve gender equality by 2030 before these cascading crises, but current trends have pushed progress farther off course, the UNDP team highlighted. Email: erastus@thevillager.com.na

Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus

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