Namibia calls for women’s inclusion in politics ahead of elections

Niël Terblanché

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Ui/O/OO Royal Kxao, stressed the importance of women’s participation in the forthcoming electoral processes.

Speaking at the official opening of the workshop that is aimed at bolstering women’s engagement in the political arena, the Deputy Minister reiterated the theme of this year’s celebration, “Inspire Inclusion. Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” which stresses the imperative of fostering an inclusive society where women’s contributions are recognized and valued.

Namibia, poised for its Presidential and National Assembly elections in November 2024, with the National Council elections to follow in December 2025, stands at a critical juncture.

The country boasts a commendable representation of women in its lower house, with 44.2 percent of National Assembly seats occupied by women.

According to the deputy minister, the representation dwindles significantly in the National Council, where only 14.29 percent of the seats are held by women.

He said this disparity emphasizes the ongoing challenges and the necessity for concerted efforts to promote gender equality in all facets of political participation.

The Deputy Minister’s address shed light on the longstanding collaboration between the Namibian Parliament and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in advancing gender equality, enhancing parliament’s gender sensitivity, and fostering solidarity among women members.

He stated that the partnership has borne significant fruits, yet the quest for gender parity, especially in the National Council, demands renewed vigour and collective action.

Ui/O/OO Royal Kxao’s call to action, especially targeting men, aims to dismantle barriers to women’s political participation and advocate for the inclusion of more women in decision-making positions.

This appeal resonates with the global commitments to gender equality, as enshrined in the United Nations Preamble Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Namibian Constitution, all of which advocate for the elimination of discrimination against women and uphold their rights to equality and participation in political and public spheres.

The workshop’s timing is strategic, aligning with the upcoming elections and providing a pivotal platform to lobby for women’s enhanced role in politics.

It serves as a reminder of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) obligations, urging political parties to eliminate prejudices and adopt policies that promote women’s full participation at all levels of decision-making.

According to the deputy minister, Namibia’s commitment to gender equality is further illustrated by its adherence to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5), which focuses on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

This commitment is essential to addressing the root causes of gender inequality and ensuring that women’s voices are heard, their issues recognized, and their contributions to development, democracy, and peace-building are acknowledged and amplified.

Kxao said that it is time to double down on efforts to ensure that women are not only represented but are also influential in the decision-making processes that shape the nation’s future.

“It is not just about fulfilling international obligations but about building a more inclusive, democratic, and prosperous Namibia where gender equality is not just an aspiration but a reality,” he said.

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