Women MPs gather to discuss empowerment

20 Sep 2015 20:30pm
SWAKOPMUND, 20 SEP (NAMPA) - More than 30 women Members of Parliament (MPs) from Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Rwanda gathered in Swakopmund at the weekend to discuss women’s empowerment.
This is part of the continuous efforts by the Government of Namibia and some African governments to empower women and promote equal representation of women and men in positions of power.
The Namibian Government last year managed to increase the percentage of women in the National Assembly from 25 to 47.
This is in line with the 50/50 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development of women representation in politics and decision making, which Namibia targets to achieve by 2016.
The two-day round table discussions had the main objective of strengthening the capacity of women MPs to fully engage in law-making, representation and oversight from a gender equality perspective.
It also enhanced the understanding and knowledge of women MPs on addressing gender issues.
The third objective is to explore how women can collaborate in parliament and share good practices on the difference women can make through their parliamentary functions.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare in collaboration with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the National Assembly of Namibia.
The discussion started on Friday and ended on Saturday.
At the official opening on Saturday, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Doreen Sioka said issues that concern women are usually given a low profile, both in politics, and public and private spheres. “Therefore, women’s participation at all levels of decision making is vital.”
Sioka added that opposition parties should follow suit by amending their constitutions to allow for 50/50 gender representation in their party structures.
She said the gathering should serve as a moment of reflection for women MPs for the months they spend in Parliament, especially the new ones.
“It should be noted that the eyes of the nation are on us, as it is the first time to have so many women in Parliament. The public would like to see change or improved quality of debate, bringing issues that matter, such as poverty, which affect the majority of our women,” said the minister.
The Gender Minister stated that the number of women in Parliament alone is not enough, and should be complemented by competence and good quality leadership.
“Let us therefore pull up our socks and do the best for our countries, so that peace and stability remain a commodity,” she encouraged.
On his part, the Regional Director of African Programmes at IDEA, Professor Adebayo Olukushi said women are good leaders and have proven that through taking care of their husbands and children at home.
“Sometimes men cannot do anything on their own especially if there is no woman at home, so we need women to be in the same positions like us,” said the professor.
He said when made part of decision-making processes and appointed as leaders in positions of power, women are able to rule and make changes just like men.
“There is no democracy without women empowerment, therefore if you plan to make this event an annual event, IDEA is ready to support you,” Olukushi said.