Efforts towards women empowerment in Namibia were strengthened this past weekend at the first ever convention of the National Young Women’s Association (NYWA).
As a resolution of the National Youth Council (NYC) passed in 2011, NYWA was formed in May that year to cater specifically to the needs of young women.
A strong delegation of 268 women, consisting of two women from each constituency in Namibia, as well as international guests from Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia met in Ondangwa for this four day convention.
Held under the theme, “Calling all young women to unite for change, the time is now!”, the convention served as an opportunity to assess the involvement of the young women in Government policy decision-making from the perspective of the leadership and economic empowerment, education, equity and social health, as well as the key areas of gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Former president of NYWA, Dalah Hapulile said, “There is often a lack of awareness about schemes for promoting welfare and development among women in Namibia. Therefore, what we need is the speedy implementation of legislative and policy measures for empowerment of women, as well as decentralisation of information to ensure awareness in all corners of Namibia.”
The challenges concerning gender equality in decision-making roles were identified, among them, factors such as cultural perceptions regarding the role of men versus women in decision-making, uneven participation of women in the electoral process, low educational attainment in some regions and a lack of women empowerment programmes.
Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta encouraged women to take up vocational jobs that are greatly lacking in the country, as their numbers would help alleviate the need for these jobs.
He said, “Namibia’s problem is structural, not monetary. We lack human capital. There are not enough brick layers, electricians and carpenters and often, we have to source them from outside the country.”
He pointed to the imminent mass housing project, which he said he is cautious about as far as its achievability goes; given the little work force available in the country, albeit the readily available money.
He explained the obligation of the State as creating the environment for the youth, women included, to empower themselves.
Former radio entertainer-turned-entrepreneur, Remind Ekandjo also gave a few words of encouragement, with regards to business and economic success, to the young women, “Empowering women is essentially vital in reducing poverty since women represent most of our country’s population. If there is one thing that propels successful women forward, it is passion. Successful women are passionate about what they do and that’s why they have built their careers around what they love to do. So if you have a passion, believe in it.”
Besides electing its new committee members, the convention also amended the constitution that will govern it from now henceforth.