17 GENDER EQUALITY OBJECTIVE OUTPUTS: 0.84/1 (2013)
The Constitution of the Republic of Namibia states that “No persons may be discriminated against on the grounds of sex…” (Art 10). The Constitution also states that “it shall be permissible to have regard to the fact that women in Namibia have traditionally suffered special discrimination, and that they need to be encouraged and enabled to play a full, equal and effective role in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the nation” (Article 23(3)), and that the state should actively promote the “enactment of legislation to ensure equality of opportunity for women, to enable them to participate fully in all spheres of Namibian society” (Article 95 (a)). Such a priority for Gender Equality is reiterated in the National Development Plan 3 (2007-2012), and again in the National Gender Policy for 2010-2020 amongst other national policy documents.
The result of 0.84/1 reflects the significant efforts made by the Namibian government in order to elaborate and implement laws, policies and measures intended to support the ability of women and men to enjoy equal opportunities and rights.
A detailed analysis of the four areas covered by the indicator, reveals major gaps where additional investment is needed to improve gender equality basic outputs. A comparison of the average number of years of education for men and women aged 25 years and above reveals little divergence. Although this is a positive result, in that both genders have opportunities to gain the basic skills and knowledge, further research should be conducted to measure the gender equality rate for superior education where disparity may remain. Progress still needs to be made regarding labour force participation; where 63% of men are either employed or actively searching for work, versus 52% of women. Additionally, the adoption and implementation of targeted gender equity legislation focused on violence against women and a quota system for political participation needs to be improved. Finally, the most significant gap is observed regarding the outcomes of political participation where a major imbalance persists. Indeed, while women benefit from much higher global representation at the local authorities level, in 2012, they represented only 24% of parliamentarians. Moreover, both at the local and national levels of government, a very small minority of women hold positions of leadership such as Mayor, Deputy Minister or Minister. Nevertheless, “as a signatory to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, the Government has committed itself to achieving the target of 50% representation of women in decision-making positions by 2015” as stated in the National Gender Policy of 2010-2020. Effective efforts in this area will be necessary as “Women’s equal participation in decision-making is not only a demand for simple justice or democracy, but also ought to be seen as a necessary condition for women’s interests to be taken into account and for social and economic development,” as stated in Namibia’s 2nd Millennium Development Goals Report for 2008.
In Conclusion, while Namibia is doing well in terms of targeted objective outputs, gender equality is far from being achieved. The 2008 MDG report highlights that “Policies supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment are by no means lacking. The problem is rather how to implement these policies, and to change perceptions about women and their roles in society.” Policies require people, and a further look into the additional subjective indicators below reveals the persistence of negative cultural values, attitudes and practices in Namibia, which reinforce the subordinate role of women and hamper their full and equal participation in all spheres of life.