The Revised Gender Policy launched by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare at this year’s International Women’s Day indicates that stronger measures must be employed to fully honour the objectives of the policy.
Four more priority areas have been added to the policy in an effort to guide stakeholders and institutions on the inclusion of women in positions of decision-making.
These priority areas are Issues of the Girl-Child; Peace-building, Conflict Resolution and Natural Disaster Management; Legal Affairs and Human Rights as well as Gender Equality in the family context.
Meanwhile, ineffective implementation and inconsistent criminal enforcement has been identified as some of the major factors, which hamper the protection and development of women and children.
People who attended the launch expressed their gratititude to the Government for trying to include more women in decision-making, in particular women from the rural areas.
Elizabeth Khaxas of the Women’s Leadership Centre, says that “Implementation is the main challenge in fulfilling the newly launched policy”.
She further suggests that it is important that implementors apply this policy with the same vigour as the Affirmative Action policy.
“The policy is just a vision of where Namibia wants to go as a country. A lot still awaits us if we want to make this work.
“The implementation of the previous policy had been lax in previous years, we must make it a living document. The launch of the policy is an achievement but we need to do more to implement it; it must become our bible. The Government must allocate more money for this cause.
“We are not a country fighting a military war, we are in a social war. We need more money than the soldiers,” she said.
In the corporate sector and political sector, there is still a glaring absence of women in strategic positions despite provision made by this policy.
Meanwhile, statistics show that there has been a slight increase of the girl-child presence in schools, even surpassing the enrollment rate of the boy-child.
However, despite the uptake of the girl-child in the education system, many of these girls fail to complete their studies because of economic pressures from their families.
According to the Director of Sister Namibia, Laura Sasman, politics has been a boys’ club all these years; a phenomenon that has set the voters’ minds in favour for men.
The Revised Gender Policy also suggests that stronger laws and policies do not translate into any form of consolation for battered women. In fact, since the adoption of the first National Gender Policy in 1997, prevalence of gender-based violence has increased significantly.
It is reported that rape attacks on women have spiralled from 778 cases in 1997 to 1,100 in 2006, with cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm being the most prevalent and rampant in the country.