Deputy minister of information Emma Theofelus gave her prize money from the 2022 UN Population Award to youth enterprises who operate in the social and sexual health reproductive space.
Theofelus scooped the award earlier this year for her work in advocating for women’s empowerment and adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Namibia.
“I had a reflection moment on how I could empower fellow Namibians who are doing the work just like me, and in some instances even more work than I could ever do as an individual. For many other reasons, I concluded that money would be the right approach,” she stated.
Each year, the Committee for the United Nations Population Award honours an individual and/or institution in recognition of outstanding contributions to population and reproductive health issues and solutions.
The award was established by the General Assembly in 1981 through resolution 36/201, and was first presented in 1983. It consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a monetary prize of N$50 000.
First Lady Monica Geingos said she would match the prize money the recipients received.
“I wish to see equitable access to sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) services for all Namibians, and a reduction in teenage pregnancies and HIV infections in the country. I do not shy away from using my voice to raise issues I consider important, and I try as much as possible to be as progressive as possible on issues affecting us as Namibians and young people in particular,” said Theofelus.
“I decided that although very little, I know that young and budding Namibian entrepreneurs are many a time already equipped with skills and the know-how on how to run a business or enterprise. Thus, it only comes down to a few things, technical mentorship and advice and money,” she observed.
“It is very true that almost nothing beats experience in the business. Unfortunately, I do not have that prowess. Those we leave to accomplished business gurus like our First Lady; capital to start a business or an investment to scale a business. I do not claim that the cash prizes we give out today will scale these young entrepreneurs to great great heights. But I do know that it will give them the confidence boost not to give up on being entrepreneurs, and for them to continue with attempts of solving our social challenges at the same time,” she added.
Namaloe Vera founder Risto Ashikoto says this pledge comes at a time when the team aims to capacitate young Namibians, and train them on how to manufacture cleaning products and so forth.
“Us being reconsidered is a big reward. We will push our agenda, and train more than 10 000 youths before 2025. We will be giving training on how to manufacture cleaning materials, and the funds will further be used to travel to remote areas of the country,” shared Ashikoto after being announced as one of the recipients.
Namaloe Vera, alongside the Association of Unemployed Artisans, received N$10 000, while Charity Work Havana, Afterbreak Magazine, Namibia Foodbible, and Tech-Learn-Namibia each received N$5 000.
Recognition was also given to Ndiilokelwa Nthengwe for her numerous attempts to advance sexual health and reproductive rights in the country. She has mobilised Namibian youths to deliberate on abortion rights in the country.
The United Nations’ Namibia resident coordinator Sen Pang commended the #UNPopulationAward individual laureate Theofelus for giving back to the young people with this notable initiative of awarding fellow young people who are making contributions in the same space.
“SRHR is not only a crucial part of healthcare, but they also continue to be an essential element for achieving gender equality and promoting women’s rights,” stated Pang.