WINDHOEK, The programme manager of the first ever Namibian Lesbian Festival, hosted by the Women's Leadership Centre (WLC) in early November, says the festival has yielded good results.

Liz Frank said in a media statement on Wednesday that more than 60 young lesbians from eight regions (provinces) of the country came together for a week of sharing both the pain and joy of their lives through various creative activities, including public performances with poetry, stories, music, drama and dance at the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek.

Frank explained that young lesbians in Namibia face stigma and violence in their daily lives and discrimination by some political leaders. The festival created a new platform for celebrating the richness and diversity of the lesbian experience from across the country.

"During this week, the participants gained feminist understandings of their oppression as lesbians and as women living in a patriarchal society that denies women autonomy, choice and freedom," Frank said.

She added that the WLC had taken up the ideal expressed by President Hage Geingob of an "inclusive Namibian house", in which no-one feels excluded. "We are challenging those who still want to use 'authentic African culture and identity' or religious discourses to dispute the indivisibility of dignity and rights," she said.

According to Frank, the festival was the culmination of a two-year outreach project run by the WLC to young lesbians and their communities in various regions of Namibia. The organization plans to support the local activities of the young leaders that have emerged through this programme.