Date: February 26, 2011
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Inputs from Sarry

Absence of women’s representation derails democracy
Many gender experts and those who embrace ideals of equality say the absence of women’s representation and participation in all structures of governance means democratic principles are being compromised. This lack of representation also harms those gains which have been made and which are enshrined in the supreme law of the country: the Constitution. It also speaks volumes about women’s equality and equity.

In 2009 Namibia had its national and presidential elections and in 2010 its local government elections. A snap survey told me that women are mostly losers during these elections. In 2009, the number of women in parliament went backwards. And, while some councils, such as the City of Windhoek, improved women’s representation (leading with eight women against seven men), many did not increase their numbers for women.

The mayor of Windhoek, however, is a woman, and the chairperson of the management committee happens to be a woman as well.

In an interview with the new mayor, Elaine Trepper, she told Gender Links Namibia that this is the first time women are represented in big numbers in Council. She promised that there will be paradigm shift in how issues related to gender are being handled.

“The Council will now prioritise issues related to gender and strengthen the relationship with Gender Links in this regards to assist,” she said. “The Council needs Gender Links to start the process of the Centres of Excellence for gender mainstreaming in local authorities soon.”

Women in Namibia form a small minority in all political parties. Given the slow pace at which the number of women in politics is growing, women everywhere are calling for more efficient methods to increase their representation. Quotas present one such mechanism.

During the last two elections only the ruling SWAPO Party has brought more women into decision-making. Opposition parties have not done enough to include women in favourable electoral positions. This means they have not yet engendered their party manifestoes, programming and policies. Until parties make room for women to excel, the status quo will remain.


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