Men hampering 50/50 initiative: Mensah-Williams

03 Aug 2014 22:00

National Council Vice Chairperson Magret Mensah-Williams has opened up about the 50/50 representation in parliament saying the concept is being delayed by man who power hungry and scared of loosen their grip on it.
Mensah-Williams told The Villager that what is blocking the initiative’s progression is the fear for men to let go of the power.
“The issue at this point is that the men are not fully supportive of the 50/50 gender representation as it means they have to share some of the power which is understandable as they are always known and taught to always be in power,” she said.
A rather vocal Mensah Williams also said women are sick and tired of men who give the excuse that women are not competent enough, “I agree that at this point we have not done as much as we should have done to empower women, but it is changing and women are progressively fighting for what is theirs.”
“What is holding back a faster and inclusive empowerment of women is the different classes women hail from which is what determine how much exposure they have on issues concerning women, which means they might not be much aware of the necessity of the 50/50 representation in parliament,” she said.
Mensha-Willaims argues that women also need to be educated on the need for their emancipation in future if the 50/50 representation lobby is to bear fruits.
“There are many women who are doing so much meaningful work but are just not known at this point as it is only some that are always in the limelight; therefore we need to get those women known to the public so they do not always think it is only few women acting, while there are more women that are quite active. What I would also note that is lagging behind is the technicalities and administrative part of the transition to making possible the 50/ 50 gender representation, it needs to be elaborated on,” she added.
United Africa Group Board Chairperson Martha Namundjebo Tilahun also told The Villager that since the country’s Independence, there has been progression but unfortunately also still faced with the socio economic development challenges such as poverty, inequalities in wealth distribution and gender inequalities.
“It is suggested that we need to develop further the economy and to accomplish that we need strong leaders be it in the public sectors and the private sector and women can lead those sectors.
“One of the reason why we do not always succeed is because women are not always included in decision making; women are born with natural qualities to lead, as in whatever they  do, they always put the others first; that is one important quality of a leader,” she said.
While some are highly anticipative of the roll out of the initiative, it seems that many label the idea as impractical and needing further preparation for a smooth implementation.
Political analyst and Namibia Institute for Public Management (NIPAM) Executive Director Prof Joseph Diescho, on his side argued last week at the animated public lecture on 50/50 representation that although the 50/50 gender representation in political and managerial positions is a noble idea, he does not think the concept was well thought of.
“Has this idea been conceptualised enough; are the logistics been thoroughly planned on how that transition should be taken into account. How are we going to orchestrate the transition of women in those seats? I would say it is too soon for this concept to be implemented, there is need to do deeper research before going further,” he said.
Political Analyst Prof William Bill Lindeke said to The Villager that smooth transition to 50/50 gender representation is possible if the government put all mechanism in place.
“ If we look in both public and private sectors and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), we have already  about over 30% of women in managerial position  and also a substantiate good number in senior positions; which already gives us an advantage and ways that it is doable to achieve the equal gender representation. Furthermore, in both his candidacy , President Pohamba emphasised on the 50/ 50 gender representation, which means that there have been enough time to prepare for the transition,” Prof Lindeke says.
He stressed that as compared to other countries, Namibia has an advantage as their party system is already focused on advancing equal gender representation; “Therefore we should be well positioned to do that,” he said.
Namibia only has  27% women representation in parliament; 12 % in Regional Councils while the highest women representation is only found in Local Authorities with 42%.
On the global level, Rwanda, a tiny eastern African country has the highest women representation in parliament with 64%, which is more than Western countries such United Kingdom with only 22.5% and Australian cabinet consisting of one woman.
In Southern Africa, South Africa holds 40% women representation, followed by Mozambique with 39 and Zimbabwe with 31.5%; Malawi and Mauritius has 16.7% or 18.8% while Zambia and Botswana are in the lowest rank with 10.8% and 9.5%.