Public Policy Dialogue On Gender Violence

With the increase in gender violence and gender inequality in society, a panel discussion this week looked at changes in gender roles, social and cultural norms, community involvement, values and traditions that promote gender submission, intimate violence in relationships, intimate partner abuse, the root causes of aggressive behavior in individuals, as well as the specific risk factors that surround gender violence as a social phenomenon. These issues were debates as part of a Public Policy Dialogue organised by the Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM).

The proceedings were chaired by the Institute’s Executive Director, Professor Joseph Diescho, and moderated by Michael Conteh. Government ministers, media representatives and other organisations including the public were addressed and given the opportunity to ask questions about the issue of gender violence and inequality. The event clearly outlined the multiple causes of gender violence and gender inequality. The respective speakers appealedto the public to get involved and work with the government to eradicate the epidemic.Various presentations with statistics about violence in the country over the years were also presented, by Ms Evelyn January, Ms Rene Adams, Dr Elizabeth Shino and Ms Immaculate Mogotsi.

“We can’t expect the government to solve all our problems, we should help,” stated Prof Diescho in his welcoming remarks.Hon Rosalia Nghidinwa, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, in her opening statement, expressed appreciation to Prof Diescho and the management of NIPAM for organising the platform to deliberate and exchange views on the issue facing the nation. She said that gender violence affected everyone therefore it is necessary to involve men, women and children in the approach for eradication.

Also noting that African women have always been vulnerable to sexual abuse, domestic assault and gender violence, she stated that the drastic increase in gender violence in the past few years, is due to a number of issues e.g. unequal gender relations and discrimination, disruption of social structures, rapid changes in cultural traditions referring to the roles of fathers at home in the upbringing of children, cultural tolerance or practices, poverty and frustration, a lack of respect for human rights, alcohol and drug abuse, inferiority complexes, and HIVAIDS. The minister said the level of women representation remains low so there is a need to address factors that prevent women from increasing their presence in political and decision making positions, as well as in all other social structures.

Minister of Health and Social Services, Hon Richard Kamwi, declared that the time has come to take firm action. He is of the opinion that gender violence reinforces gender inequality, Adding that it is “therefore upon us, as men and women to find ways of promoting gender equality and combating gender violence.” He noted that through education and hard work the ministry had a success rate of 97% in preventing transmission of HIVAIDS from mother to child, hence his belief that the same can be achieved to eliminate gender violence.

The health minister is of the opinion that gender violence will not be eradicated unless the general public is more informed. He aocates community involvement saying that education is an important part of the process. “We should talk at home, within ourselves and as family members. This recognises the participatory and localised communication that actively involves communities. Both women and men can have a greater impact” he said. “We need to be greatly concerned with gender violence, because of the lives lost, of the health of survivors, who usually carry emotional and physical scars, and the overall development of the country. The government has put in place various legal and policy frameworks for the protection and promotion of the rights of the most vulnerable” he concluded.

Source : Namibia Economist