Gender parity more than mere numbers


Windhoek – The Namibian ruling Swapo Party has made good on its promise of equal gender representation following the successful election of party candidates who will represent the party in the next National Assembly.

Swapo held its Electoral College on August 30 were 50 percent of the 96 members that were elected were women, a move that was hailed by many as a huge success in terms of the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on gender and development.

The party adopted a 50/50 gender representation policy, after it amended its Constitution last year to allow for the equal representation of men and women in the party’s organs and structures.

One gender activist has, however, cautioned that such achievement should not be used as gender dressing, rather it must be transformed into key areas whereby women can be seen to contribute to the social and economic development of the country.

Gender Links country manager for Namibia, Sarry Xoagus-Eises, although happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a painful process of SADC protocol on gender and development formation and implementation, said “a lot still needs to be done to make sure that women do not enter parliament as back benchers who are just there as witnesses of what is happening in parliament but as cabinet ministers and prime minister”.

Xoagus-Eises described the implementation of SADC protocol on gender by Swapo Party as a case study that other countries can make use of towards achieving gender balance in their countries.

The move places Namibia on top of the list of countries that have achieved gender balance in the decision making body, she said.

However, she stressed that the 50/50 gender representation policy should not be seen as the overall success “until the number of women is translated into agencies of government”.

“For now, one can say we have unlocked the women from the position of boundaries to the world of opportunities but the question that the country is sitting with is to tell where the women are going to be placed,” she said.

She noted that the numbers alone cannot tally the victory but should also translate into which position the women will occupy in government.

“For gender parity, to be achieved one should look beyond the number because numerical gender balance can only be sustained if women are placed at the position where their voice can be heard and they can make a great influence,” she said.

Xoagus-Eises said the number should be transformed into delivering and potential women who can deliver, adding that the number will never make things work, its action that makes things to work.

Gender Links is conducting workshops around Namibia to equip women coming into power with necessary skills to address the critical and key issues that are affecting the country’s development, especially gender-based violence against women and children. The organisation is also developing gender monitoring, evaluation and measuring tool that will be used to monitor women’s performance to gauge the capability of women.

September 2014
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