Why Women In Community Matter

Why Women In Community Matter

IN reference to Elaine Trepper’s opposition to the renaming of a street in honour of Richardine Kloppers, as reported in The Namibian (08/12/2006).

Elaine Trepper is a name associated with an assigned position because of the party list system used for local authorities. One drawback of the party list system is that voters hardly know their representatives as they are assigned their positions through their political party.In other words, they do not have a direct constituency that has voted them into the positions held.This is the fundamental difference between Trepper’s formal office position and Richardine Kloppers’ community profile.Community activism has a strength of its own.Kloppers enjoys her support directly from the community.This support comes from her long tradition of more than 60 years of serving the community with her own identity, separate from that of her late husband.For this reason, the community took the initiative to have her honoured for her contributions, requesting that a street be named after her.She is no formal political leader; she is rather an organic community leader, known for her contributions to the community.Kloppers hails from the soil of this country – born and raised here.She became an icon of hope for the women of her generation, defeating the glass ceiling set to keep women out of formal work.Hence, becoming the first “black” female teacher in Namibia to challenge the status quo of oppressed women in the formal world of work generally, and in the teaching profession, more specifically – this is a real history and not an easy victory being claimed.Her belief in the equality of all human beings led to her starting the St Andrew’s School, basing itself on the pillars of a non-racial and a non-ethnic ethos.In our new democracy, transformation continues to present itself as a challenge.This is a matter of concern as is evident in the remarks of Trepper’s shallow dismissal of women’s contributions.Maybe this has to do with Trepper’s rather sudden and late entrance into the political arena – when most of the work for political independence was already done.The fight to have more women included in political positions has proven to be one of the major reforms won so far.What is still left for us to do as women is to understand and to continue to change the historical power relations between men and women, starting with the acknowledgment of the contributions made by women in their own right without any excuses.There is no doubt that our struggle for gender equality needs some more serious shifts from paper to practice.Women’s empowerment can only be understood as a process whereby women individually and collectively become aware of how power relations operate in their lives; in this way they will gain the confidence and strength to challenge gender inequalities.Maybe we need to consider a public debate on the history of women in Namibia and simultaneously examine the party list system again in order to assess its drawbacks for genuine community representation.Imelda Kloppers WindhoekOne drawback of the party list system is that voters hardly know their representatives as they are assigned their positions through their political party.In other words, they do not have a direct constituency that has voted them into the positions held.This is the fundamental difference between Trepper’s formal office position and Richardine Kloppers’ community profile.Community activism has a strength of its own.Kloppers enjoys her support directly from the community.This support comes from her long tradition of more than 60 years of serving the community with her own identity, separate from that of her late husband.For this reason, the community took the initiative to have her honoured for her contributions, requesting that a street be named after her.She is no formal political leader; she is rather an organic community leader, known for her contributions to the community.Kloppers hails from the soil of this country – born and raised here.She became an icon of hope for the women of her generation, defeating the glass ceiling set to keep women out of formal work.Hence, becoming the first “black” female teacher in Namibia to challenge the status quo of oppressed women in the formal world of work generally, and in the teaching profession, more specifically – this is a real history and not an easy victory being claimed.Her belief in the equality of all human beings led to her starting the St Andrew’s School, basing itself on the pillars of a non-racial and a non-ethnic ethos.In our new democracy, transformation continues to present itself as a challenge.This is a matter of concern as is evident in the remarks of Trepper’s shallow dismissal of women’s contributions.Maybe this has to do with Trepper’s rather sudden and late entrance into the political arena – when most of the work for political independence was already done.The fight to have more women included in political positions has proven to be one of the major reforms won so far.What is still left for us to do as women is to understand and to continue to change the historical power relations between men and women, starting with the acknowledgment of the contributions made by women in their own right without any excuses.There is no doubt that our struggle for gender equality needs some more serious shifts from paper to practice.Women’s empowerment can only be understood as a process whereby women individually and collectively become aware of how power relations operate in their lives; in this way they will gain the confidence and strength to challenge gender inequalities.Maybe we need to consider a public debate on the history of women in Namibia and simultaneously examine the party list system again in order to assess its drawbacks for genuine community representation.Imelda Kloppers Windhoek

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News