26 Nov 2013 15:00pm
WINDHOEK, 26 NOV (NAMPA) - Desert Soul launched a three-year project aimed at developing community protection mechanisms against gender-based violence (GBV) in the Zambezi and Khomas Regions here on Monday.
The Desert Soul organisation forms part of a 10-country network across Southern Africa, initiated by the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication in neighbouring South Africa.
Established in 2008, it aims to empower communities throughout Namibia where individuals and groups make informed, healthy and positive lifestyle choices.
The N.dollars 4,2 million project is co-funded by the European Union (EU).
Speaking at the launch, the Head of the EU delegation in Namibia, Raul Fuentes Milani said it aims to empower women and girls to access services and obtain their rights as constituted within national laws and policies.
We cannot ignore the fact that many women around the world continue to face inequality. They earn less than men, and they are still under-represented politically.
Every day, thousands of women and girls are victims of gender-based violence, including sexual abuse, trafficking and early and forced marriage. Namibia is unfortunately not an exception to this picture, he stated.
According to Milani, the project will also assist communities to develop community protection mechanisms which allow women and girls at household and community level to challenge a culture of violence, seek help and report abuse in a timely fashion.
It furthermore aims to create an enabling environment by sensitising duty- bearers of their roles against exploitation, violence and abuse.
The EU support seeks to achieve gender equality as a fundamental right, and also as an imperative for economic growth and social cohesion.
Milani further stated that the EU adopted an Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development in June 2010 for a period of five years (2010 to 2015).
This action plan aims to accelerate progress towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Three on gender equality and empowerment, and MDG Five on maternal health.
Also speaking at the launch, the chairperson of the Desert Soul Board, law lecturer Yvonne Dausab said the project hopes to make a difference in at least those two regions through the strong mobilisation of community members so that they can become a source of support and hope for many out there who are suffering violence at the hands of their loved ones.
It also aims to challenge the dominant acceptance of violence against women, and create a culture of intolerance towards violence, as well as build on existing community structures and work closely with other stakeholders to create a critical mass of action towards the protection of women and children against violence.