Namibia: Will Namibia reach the 5050 target in 2014 elections? Maybe with legislated quotas it will

Namibia: Will Namibia reach the 5050 target in 2014 elections? Maybe with legislated quotas it will

Date: March 11, 2012
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The November 2009 national elections in Namibia witnessed a major backward slide as women representation in parliament dropped from 30.8% to 23.2%. This is despite the fact that the country has not only signed but ratified the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development which sets a target of 50% for women representation in parliament by 2015. Considering that the country is left with only one national election (2014) before 2015, it is highly unlikely that parity will be achieved by the set timeframe.

Now the battle for bringing more women aboard key political decision making has started and has to continue until the war is won on all fronts, be it economic and -social, politics, cultural and even in the financial sectors.

It is against this background that the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance Network anchored by the gender sector of umbrella body, NANGOF Trust has begun a campaign to boost women’s numbers in the next election.

The Namibia Alliance Network is among many that are making submissions to the Law Reform Commission of Namibia for reserved seats or quotas, which are legislated. Some are campaigning with political parties to help lobby for these changes in the electoral systems.

The Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC), in conjunction with the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and the Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID) have initiated an Electoral Law Reform Project (ELRP), under the Law Reform and Development Commission Act, 1991 (Act No. 29 of 1991) aimed at consulting stakeholders and the public on issues pertaining to electoral reform. Countrywide consultative meetings and public hearingshave started whichwill culminate in a draft report on suggestions for electoral law reform, to provide the basis for the drafting of a new electoral bill.

Recently the President of Namibia, HifikepunyePohamba pleaded for unity amongst all Namibian women. Addressing a SWAPO’s Women Council Central Committee meeting, he told them to search for solutions to the challenges facing women and girls in the country.

“Women can only excel in many domains if they are united even during elections”, said the President. He spoke of the challenges facing women, such as domestic violence including rape, murder and all evils that hamper women’s development in the economic sector and politics.

“I urged the SWAPO Women Council to become a vehicle and a front runner in working out strategies and mechanism to resolve these issues and challenges for women countrywide”.

Pohamba also urged men to be part of these solutions. “I plead to men to participate in these challenges, of rape and domestic violence including rape of girls”. He emphasised the need for the missing voice of men to become vibrant in the fight against gender-based violence.

Activists commented on the President’s sentiments saying that he should help in making sure more women are elected to the high office by appointing them in these positions.Said one activist, “There is no way the President speaks about women and empowerment without making a plea to his fellow men for giving that space for women to make inroads in decision-making at all levels”.

Said another activist, “The deadline for delivering results in making sure there is a 5050 balance by 2015 as called upon by the SADCGender Protocol, the president must provide that platform where women will equally participate and be elected”.However, in the absence of any strategies, we shall be singing the same song everyday she concluded.

The million-dollar question is inthe 2014 national elections will Namibia reach the target? May be with legislated quotas in place it will.

Namibia is one of the Southern African countries that have already ratified the 2008 SADCGender Protocol, which has a specific target of 50% women in all areas of decision-making by 2015, and is in line with the African Union (AU) 50% target. Yet, there is a glaring gap in Namibia’s electoral practices about women’s representation at the local, national and regional level. A 30% quota for women has been put in place at local level only.


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