Speaker seeks Finnish help in tackling GBV

Speaker of the National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi is concerned about increasing cases of gender-based violence in Namibia and has appealed to the top Finnish political leadership to help curb the calamity.

Katjavivi made the appeal recently when he met the President of Finland, Sauli NiinistAl, and his counterpart, the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, Maria Lohela, in Helsinki recently. Katjavivi was on a three-day visit to Finland to seek cooperation between the two legislatures.

Given Finland's good track record in tackling the scourge of gender-based violence, Katjavivi believes a joint effort between the two countries' law-making bodies would address many of the gender-related challenges that Namibia has been grappling with in recent years.

We are dealing with a particular challenge of gender-based violence in Namibia. It has become a major problem. No day passes by without hearing men killing their own partners. Finland that has done exceptionally well in tackling this challenge can strengthen our ability to fight it, stated Katjavivi.

He urged Finnish MPs to help devise mechanisms to fight the curse in collaboration with their Namibian counterparts.

He felt particular attention should be focused on targeted training for identified stakeholders to tackle the challenge.

He also cited the resolutions of a global summit to end sexual violence, which took place in London in 2014, as a yardstick that could be used as possible mitigating measures.

We would want identified stakeholders such as justice, the police, the gender ministry and others properly trained to be able to deal with victims and shame the perpetrators. Our reception centres for GBV victims should be upgraded to avoid subjecting already traumatized victims to further suffering, suggested the Speaker.

The former Finnish ambassador to Namibia whose term of office came to an end recently, Anne Saloranta, reiterated in one of a series of meetings her government's commitment to gender issues, noting that Finland has and continues to fund projects on gender issues, particularly gender-based violence in Namibia.

The Finnish government has also continued to collaborate with the Ministry of Poverty Eradication in order to alleviate poverty, which is one of the underlying causes of gender-related challenges.

President NiinistAl was particularly happy with Namibia's efforts in tackling reproductive health rights challenges.

Of particular interest to President NiinistAl was the mooted HEforShe campaign to be launched soon in Namibia that will jointly compel men and women lawmakers to take a stand against gender-based violence and demand women advancement.

Many Finnish political leaders who have keenly followed developments in Namibia due to special relations dating back to the years of the struggle, including President NiinistAl, former president Martti Ahtisaari and Speaker Lohela, all spoke glowingly about Namibia's equal gender representation in Parliament.

Another area of importance to Katjavivi is transforming the Namibian Parliament into a paperless institution.

Katjavivi noted that Finland and neighbouring Estonia are a good example of countries that have fully embraced e-parliament, and appealed for assistance. The two parliaments pledged to work together in strengthening cooperation through existing parliamentary friendship groups. Finland already has a Finnish-Namibia Parliament friendship group and Katjavivi pledged to emulate the gesture.

Katjavivi, who apart from parliamentary cooperation appealed for multi-faceted ties, further expressed gratitude to the Finnish government for having been instrumental during the European partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations that turned into a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties.

We would like to thank Finland for the role it played during the EPA negotiations ensuring that we get a better deal. We would like not only to have parliamentary cooperation but also government to government, private sector and people to people cooperation, urged Katjavivi.

Finland and Namibia have a deep-seated relationship that dates back to the days of Finnish missionaries who arrived in Namibia more than 100 years ago, predating its well-recorded role in Namibia's struggle for independence.

Katjavivi, who also met leaders of various opposition parties, was accompanied on his visit by lawmakers Elma Dienda and Heather Sibungo.

George Sanzila works as chief information officer in the Division Research, Information, Publications and Editorial Services at the National Assembly.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia