A top United Nations official recently said women and young girls are disproportionately affected by inequality and, therefore, need to engage in difficult conversations.
“Women must make it a point to address barriers limiting their progress, including gender inequality,” said UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima during an event hosted at State House by the Office of the First Lady under the banner #BreakFree From Violence campaign in collaboration with UNAIDS.
UNAIDS is the joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Byanyima was visiting Namibia to engage with the highest levels of government and seek support for the upcoming high-level meeting on HIV and AIDS to be held in June 2021.
This is in light of building a strong common African position for the new political declaration on HIV as well as advocating for the implementation of the new Global AIDS Strategy that was adopted by the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board last month under the leadership of Namibia.
The round-table discussion provided an opportunity to engage with women leaders in Namibia to discuss gender inequality and gender-based violence as some of the critical drivers of the HIV epidemic.
It focused on some of the emerging issues, including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on gender, health, social protection and gains that had been made by the country and are at risk of being eroded by the pandemic.
Invited women leaders shared what they are doing in their respective professions to advance the cause of gender inequality and also share their challenges and possible solutions.
On her part, Namibian ophthalmologist Dr Helena Ndume said it is vital for women to have access to contraceptives and abortion services.
“It is important to ensure the accessibility of contraceptives and abortion services to women who have unintended or unwanted pregnancies,” she stated.
MVA Fund CEO Rosalia Martins-Hausiku said women leaders must play their part and become agents of combating violence.
“I call on women leaders to strategically become active participants in combating violence. Furthermore, women in workspaces need to be equipped with wellness and empowerment programmes,” she commented.
Deputy health minister Utjiua Muinjangue said it is important to uplift women in society but men should not be left behind.
“When we try to manage gender equality, let us not leave our men and boys behind, as they are all critical stakeholders in combating GBV,” she stated.