SWAKOPMUND – Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Doreen Sioka said tackling the under-representation of women in the National Council continues to be an ongoing battle.
There are currently six women in the National Council, which consists of 46 members. This shows that women are still not part of key positions in many political parties. Sioka made these remarks at the opening of a three-day capacity-building workshop for women in politics which took place over the weekend in Swakopmund. The objectives included the training, mentoring and coaching of women from various political parties, as well as those in decision-making positions.
“Although we are doing well in the National Assembly, the picture is different with the NC”, the minister said.
She observed that the number of women needs to change drastically for Namibia to achieve 50/50 representation, as per the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. The country cannot continue to speak about gender equality and equal representation of men and women in politics and decision-making without involving women, as they play a crucial role in addressing gender issues in lawmaking, representation and oversight.
“Some of us fought alongside men for this country, and should not be intimidated by our men. As women, we should support and vote for each other when these crucial decisions are made to push us to the frontline,” she appealed.
Sioka highlighted that this can only be achieved if women are equipped with the requisite skills necessary for their self-confidence, collective advancement and advanced oversight roles.
“We should not be afraid to vote for each other. Make sure for every man selected, there are at least two women selected as well. We can currently see that some parties do not get many seats, and that the seats they get sometimes go to men, resulting in only them making it to parliament. Hence, us women should push that political parties’ manifestos become gender-responsive for mainstreaming gender equity within the political party system,” she continued.
Her deputy minister, Bernadette Jagger, likewise appealed to political parties and stakeholders to continuously aim to ensure gender equality and equitable socio-economic development for women and men. “Hence, this programme will assist us in preparing for any democratic process, such as elections, to ensure that all political parties have female representation in their political party lists.” Jagger pointed out that Namibia has ratified the above protocol, and according to Article 144 of the Constitution, it has become part and parcel of the country’s laws.