Women should prove 50/50 won’t be a handicap

Home Erongo Women should prove 50/50 won’t be a handicap

By Eveline de Klerk

SWAKOPMUND – The Minister of  Home Affairs and Immigration , Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, wants women not only to lobby for the speedy implementation of gender equality but also to prove to the world that this will in general not disadvantage Namibians.

But gender equality can only be achieved once women move forward in a unified voice and address critical issues such as inequality and unemployment and desist from the “pulling each other down syndrome”.

Iivula-Ithana was speaking on Friday at the official opening of  the first ever women leadership seminar that focussed on building capacity amongst Namibian women in pursuit of visionary leadership.

The two-day seminar  themed ‘ The Role of Women in Leadership in the 21st Century in Conjunction with Pan Afrikanism’ was presented by Giant Thoughts Consultants to help develop women that are eligible and compatible for leadership positions.

Iivula-Ithana said from the time they are born women have the gift to lead, even though many do not attain formal education.

However, that has not stopped women from doing what is expected of them, whether it is organising their homes, communities or looking after their children, she said.

“These are the skills we are born with. Women were present during the liberation struggle, whether we nursed the wounded or cooked for our freedom fighters. We did not stand back but did our part and what was required,” she told delegates at the leadership indaba.

Sharing some of the hardships she endured to become successful, Iivula-Ithana said young women should experience the thrill of doing  things for themselves but also know their place in society.

“To make a difference does not mean that you need to occupy a high position, but you should be able to   make the difference in your society and community,” she urged.

She said being a leader also means knowing when it is time to listen and when it’s time to pave the way for male counterparts.

“We have reached a stage where women are regarded as a blessing to society.  We are recognised by those who are currently in a leadership positions. That is why Swapo took a leadership decision  on equal representation,” said the home affairs minister.

Speaking at the same seminar, the Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Rosalia Nghidinwa, said the number of women in parliament dropped from 30 per cent in 2005 to 25 percent in 2009.

She said the slow progress has been noted regarding the implementation of gender equality in leadership.

She said that despite women making up 51 percent of the population they are still poorly represented in elected structures.

This is despite a progressive law on affirmative action which favours the appointment of women, she said.
As a result of the drop in the number of female MPs, her ministry last year held a conference on women in politics and decision-making, she said.