WINDHOEK-- Namaibia's Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare is developing a National Women Economic Empowerment Framework to ensure that women benefit and contribute economically to the country's development, says the Minister, Doreen Sioka.

Addressing a two-day joint conference of the University of Namibia's Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences and Economic and Management Sciences, she said the framework would provide strategies, interventions, mechanisms and specific recommendations for the support required to ensure that women fully participate in the strategic value chain of key sectors of the Namibian economy.

"This will lead to the development of economic empowerment programmes for women, which will clearly show the role of each economic sector in empowering women in our country," Sioka added.

She noted that according to a 2012 Namibia Statistics Agency report, the incidence of poverty is higher among female-headed households at 22 per cent, compared with male-headed households at 18 per cent.

The minister further expressed concern that gender-based violence remains one of the biggest challenges Namibia faces.

On land, Sioka noted that access to land is a basic human right and owning it is a key requirement for equality in general. In Namibia, however, the majority of women own land through spouses or families, she said.

"Access to land has to a great degree improved their livelihoods, especially in subsistence agriculture and other economic activities, but their ownership to land is still limited and this has an impact on how they utilise and benefit from the land. Access is good but ownership is even better," she said.

The conference, which ends Thursday, will focus on how research across the different disciplines can tackle the challenges of inequality and improve the living standard of all citizens.