WINDHOEK - Despite government’s effort to reform several laws after independence, including abolishing discrimination on the basis of gender, women remain at the lowest level of employment.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila expressed these views during the Namibia Women in Engineering Annual Conference held in Ongwediva on Friday.
The conference is aimed at celebrating Namibian women’s excellence in the field of engineering and to encourage and motivate girls to fearlessly pursue careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (Stem) fields.
Latest United Nations (UN) statistics shows that the lack of women in certain industries and specific jobs is one factor that leads to this pay gap.
Significantly, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said women continue to lag in the Stem fields particularly in mathematically intensive fields, and gender differences in university major has been found to be an important determinant of the pay gap between university educated men and women.
She said Namibia is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), the Beijing Platform for Action (1995), the Cedaw Optional Protocol (2000) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Declaration on Gender and Development (2005).
She noted the aim of all these laws, conventions and protocols is to ensure that women have equal opportunities to their male counterparts.
However, she reasoned despite efforts made, legal equality has not yet transformed into structural equality.
“Women remain at the lowest level of employment and struggle with practical impediments that limit their economic independence and self-sufficiency,” she stated.
Recent United Nations statistics show that women earn 23 percent less than men, while the 2018 World Economic forum report indicates that it will take 202 years to close the global pay gap.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report further states that gender inequality is directly linked to income inequality, which in turn can weaken the sustainability of growth in a country.
She mentioned women getting paid less than men directly contribute to income inequality, and higher gaps in labour force participation rates between men and women resulting in inequality of earnings, unequal pensions and savings.
She argued closing the gender wage gap can lead to greater equality in the overall income distribution.
Further, she said gender diversity is not only important for gender equality but it also facilitates for the diversity in innovation products due to diversity in perspectives and thus accelerate technological advancement and economic growth.
The event took place at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology Jose Eduardo do Santos Campus, which is the heart of engineering learning activities for the University of Namibia.
The centre, has graduated over 250 engineers since its establishment in 2009.
This number, she says when seen together with the 200 students graduated in the engineering field from the Namibia University of Science and Technology illustrates the gain the country has made in promoting students in Stem, which is indispensable for technological advancement and economic growth.
“These achievements are also of great significance seeing that before independence, engineering qualifications were not offered in Namibia to all and those who wanted to purse this field of study were forced to go outside the country,” she indicated.
She appealed to women engineers to take the younger professionals in the engineering field under their wings and provide the much-needed advice and mentorship.
She believes mentoring of young engineers is crucial for their career development and provides confidence and impetus for them to build successful careers in this field.
She said young girls also need to be encouraged to take interest to study and ultimately practise engineering.
According to her, too often, school-age children see engineering profession as being confined to jobs in construction, transport and manufacturing.
However, she emphasised engineering can also be about developing products such as computing, healthcare, medical and environmental protection products.
So, she vowed there is a wide diversity in the career options in the engineering profession to cater for the diversification of talents and interests for engineering aspirants.
2019-07-31 06:57:58 19 days ago