Expo casts light on gender equality

Eileen van der Schyff

The official opening of the 12th Erongo Business and Tourism Expo was the platform on Wednesday for renewed efforts to cast the light on gender equality in Namibia, women’s empowerment and gender based violence.
In her address at the opening of the Expo, the Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Mrs Doreen Sioka re-emphasised the importance to integrate women in all spheres of social and economic development (Sioka’s address was delivered to the audience on her behalf by Eline Nghiitwikwa, the Director of Community Empowerment and Early Childhood Development in the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare).
“Women play a pivotal role in Economic development in modern trade.” Nghiitwikwa went on to state that women in Agri-cultural production for instance go unnoticed.
In Agriculture women play a pivotal role as it is women in most instances who plant, toil the land, harvest and raising animals and also care for the daily livelihood of the children and men.
Touching on the issue of gender based violence, she expressed concern over the increase of gender based violence against women and children. Also other social evils committed against women and children which include human trafficking, forced prostitution, child marriages, baby dumping and abductions and killings.
“As a government we remain committed to ensure appropriate legal instruments are put in place to protect people particularly against gender-based, violence against children and trafficking in per-sons.
In Namibia we deal with baby dumping, prostitution, abductions and killings and in most cases these happenings are with people known to the victims. One out of every five women are being violently abused in Namibia.”
Nghiitwikwa further said that sadly that is not where it stops. There are different kinds of abuse to-wards women and it should not be hidden anymore. Physical abuse is just one type of a list of abuses against women and children in Namibia. Beyond physical abuse, our women also suffer other forms of abuse which include psychological or emotional abuse, financial abuse, discriminatory abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse.
“Victims of abuse should speak up” Nghiitwikwa urged the public. Victims need to cooperate with the authorities so that these perpetrators can be stopped.
“Communities should support victims to come forward. Make it possible for the law to take its course”, Nghiitwikwa said. Adding the high rate of victims withdrawing cases against perpetrators are also a huge concern.

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