• August 15th, 2020

Gawanas rekindles abortion debate



Namibia’s Bience Gawanas, who has been elected to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) board of trustees, said the country should continue the debate on whether abortion should be legalised or not. Gawanas was at the weekend elected to the IPPF board.
 The IPPF is a global organisation that promotes sexual and reproductive health and advocates the rights of individuals to make their own choice on family planning. 

Gawanas is currently the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advisor to Africa. According to Gawanas, sexual and reproductive health rights involves a range of issues affecting mostly women, such as deciding on the number of children to have and when to have them. 
“It is not just about abortion and I want people to understand that. It is about young girls that we want to keep in school, while we don’t want teenage pregnancies,” said Gawanas. 

She said the country has largely shied away from the issue of abortion and that needed to change. “Are we okay when girls dump their babies? Where are the fathers? Is it okay that we have maintenance courts?” she said yesterday during a brief telephonic interview with New Era. 
“These are not new issues, the fact is that there is backstreet abortion taking place, there is baby dumping and gender-based violence happening in Namibia. These are not new issues.”  

According to Gawanas, abortion should not stand on its own but should be discussed within the context of the reality in the country, which should not be conflated with religion or tradition. 
“It should also bring into focus the rights that the constitution has bestowed on Namibian people. I would want to see a debate, let us discuss and let us not kill the messenger but listen to the message,” she said. Former health minister Bernard Haufiku has also in the past called for debate on whether to have a referendum on allowing the legislation of abortion or not. Gawanas, who is a trained lawyer, will serve as an IPPF board of trustee for the next three years. 

“Basically, I am giving time to issues that I am passionate about and feel as a Namibian I can contribute not only to the global agenda but also to the continental and national agenda on these issues,” she remarked. The Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (Nappa), which is an affiliate of IPPF, congratulated Gawanas on her appointment. Nappa spokesperson Louise Stephanus thanked Gawanas for her dedicated work for the past 26 years at Nappa. 

“She is one of the founders and still continue to serve as honorary member and volunteer. 
“Her dedication is appreciated and we believe that while she is on this arena she will be able to speak for the Namibian women when it comes to issues of women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health because many at times men want to control the women body and sexuality,” said Stephanus who added that Namibia was experiencing a critical shortage of various methods of family planning. 
– sikela@nepc.com.na 


Selma Ikela
2020-05-18 09:57:28 | 2 months ago

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