Women MPs too quiet about elections: Namises

21 Aug 2014 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 21 AUG (NAMPA) – Female parliamentarians are more vocal when it comes to social issues, but fail to articulate their interest on elections, a local activist has said.
Women's Solidarity Namibia Executive Director, Rosa Namises made this observation during her presentation on Gender and Elections at the Namibia 2014 Electoral Symposium underway here on Thursday.
The two-day symposium, which started on Wednesday, takes place under the theme “Striving for free, fair and credible elections in 2014”.
It aimed to reflect on issues pertaining to elections, including the role of the media and civil society during the electoral process; political parties and their manifestos; and political tolerance in Namibia.
Namises said women in parliament are aware of the importance of their participation in parliament, but they are held back by their loyalty towards their political parties, and they also feel rejected or that they do not belong to the male team.
She added that women’s efforts in public participation depends on being able to articulate interest and ‘form a constituency’ to advance those interests.
Namises thus stressed the need to address the obstacle faced by women in participating in the electoral process and their ability to exercise their real choices in elections.
“Women also face a wide range of constraints to effectively participate even in the most basic democratic exercise, such as voting or running for political office. Women’s independent choices are limited by coercion within households, tradition, party loyalty, and or safety and security,” said the activist.
She added that citizens and women in particular face challenges, including poverty and education.
“Women and girls, for example, living in rural areas are less likely to benefit most of the time from possible education and employment, since these resources tend to target many of those affluent in places like the urban centres,” said Namises.
She also noted that if political parties and political structures do not take into consideration women’s needs and priorities and if the media tradition and cultural practices consistently minimise women’s values and their political rights, than democracy cannot deliver, therefore women need to debate common positions on the Constitution and the electoral law.
Namises added that women in parliament are vocal on social issues, because that is where they think they are needed to speak out about.
“That is what we think - you speak when kitchen comes, but not when Constitution amendments come. It is the way in which women have been conditioned and looked at,” she said.
Namises told Nampa in an interview afterwards that future representation of women in parliament needs to be done consciously.
“We need to make sure that the question of justice and representation is clarified. We need to provide voice and choice to our women,” she said.