23 Nov 2013 16:10pm
WALVIS BAY, 23 NOV (NAMPA) The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Rosalia Nghidinwa says there will be no negotiation on 50/50 gender representation in leadership roles by 2015.
Speaking during the official opening of a three-day conference on women in politics and decision-making here on Friday, Nghidinwa said Namibia cannot continue to speak about equal representation of men and women in politics and decision-making positions without walking the talk.
The conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Child Welfare in partnership with, amongst others, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Spanish Cooperation, and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).
The conference, which is being attended by Southern African Development Community (SADC) Members of Parliament and representatives of regional councils and local authorities, provides a platform to reflect on the importance of 50/50 gender representation, particularly in view of Namibia's 2014 general elections.
The key focus of the conference is placed on how women can build on the already secured spaced within Parliament and political parties for effective representation and participation in politics across parties.
It also aims to equip women in leadership and decision-making positions with the requisite skills necessary for self and collective advancement.
Nghidinwa noted that the conference is being held as Namibia is preparing to go to the polls for general and presidential elections late next year.
This should be seen as one of the major Government steps in preparation of elections to ensure that all political parties have drafted women in their party lists from the top, and not just somewhere at the end, of the list. Gone are the days when men put themselves in the top 10 favourable positions and leave women lower on the list, she said.
The minister went on to explain that Namibia was doing very well until the last elections in 2009, when the number of women in Parliament fell from 30 to 25 per cent.
Nghidinwa said Namibia therefore needs to work very hard to ensure that the country adheres to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which requires 50/50 representation of women and men in leadership roles by 2015.
According to the 2011 Namibian Population and Housing Census Report, women make up 52 per cent of the population.
The minister stressed that despite the fact that women are in the majority and even though Namibia has a progressive law on affirmative action, women are still poorly represented in all State-elected structures.
If women are excluded from decision-making, it means their needs are not catered for and it is only they who know how they want to be served. Inequality in any nation makes people unhappy and when you have unhappy citizens, expect a revolution, she cautioned.
The minister further advised that men should not misunderstand the concept of 50/50 representation as women wanting to take total control, and should instead see it as women want to equally share power.
Nghidinwa also pointed out that the conference should not be misunderstood as being an event for women only, adding that it rather indicates the importance of discussing the involvement of women in decision-making.