Swapo indaba debates gender equalityBy: SELMA SHIPANGA
THE subject of gender and the attainment of equality continued to receive the attention of the 350 delegates at the Swapo Party National Policy Conference yesterday at the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre in Windhoek.
Secretary General of the Swapo Party, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana yesterday told local media that on Tuesday, the ruling Party had adopted a policy decision to put an end to all discriminatory practices based on gender.
Article 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia guarantees equality before the law and the right to non-discrimination on the basis of sex. However, this has not yet translated to equality in economic opportunity and political empowerment, with women continuing to fare worse than their male counterparts on labour force participation, wage equality, income, representation in senior positions and political participation. Discriminatory practices, particularly in relation to family life and women’s sexual rights continue to pose a challenge to achieving substantive gender equality.
Namibia has in place a National Gender Policy which reinforces policy and programmes to achieve gender equality as well as promote women empowerment. The National Gender Policy is particularly important in the context of gender, HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights. In Namibia as elsewhere, girls and women are most vulnerable to HIV infection, driven by a combination of socio-cultural values, practices, discriminatory laws and structural gender inequalities which limit women’s access to services and to decision-making structures.
“Gender equality remains one of the top priorities among the list of the Party matters of strategic importance. Proposals to accelerate the implementation of this policy directive are being discussed by delegates for adoption by the conference,” Iivula-Ithana said.
In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked Namibia 32 out of 135 countries in its 2011 Global Gender Gap Report, with a score of 0.7177 where 0 represents inequality and one represents equality.
Also on the discussion board of the delegates yesterday was the topic of “Generation Transition”, which Iivula-Ithana said was in the interest of nation building and cohesion among various age groups of the Namibian population.
A study carried out by the party on national inter-generational dynamics found that the Namibian population is classified into three generations namely the ‘revolutionary generation’, ‘in the middle generation’ and the ‘aweh-aweh generation’.
According to Iivula-Ithana, who classified herself in the ‘in the middle generation’, the essence of the study was to understand the dynamics of various age groups for the purpose of mentorship and succession planning.
“We want to understand structural problems affecting generational succession in our society so that we develop enough leaders to take over the management of the country in the future. The imperative to achieve a seamless generational transition is because continuity in leadership is a critical element,” she said.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba will address the closing ceremony of the conference today.