Members of Parliament from both houses and their support staff as well as gender experts from Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) and Namibia assembled for the three day seminar on evaluating the gender sensitivity of the parliament of Namibia
|Story by Rafael Hangula
The three day self-assessment exercise on evaluating the gender sensitivity of the Parliament of Namibia ended on Thursday (1 March 2018). The seminar was aimed at supporting and boosting Parliament’s efforts to integrate a gender perspective in all areas of its work such as representation, law-making, oversight etc.
During the seminar, several presentations such as gender mainstreaming, gender equality in Namibia: policies and legal framework at international and national level; defining a gender sensitive parliament, objectives, expectations and modalities of gender, legal and policy frameworks on gender equality, amongst others, were made.
After the three days of active participation by the members of parliament from both houses, the house has agreed on the following decisions as a result of the concerns that were raised during the session: amend the electoral law so as to make it mandatory for all political parties to apply the 50/50 gender representation rule. Ensure gender parity on Regional Councils and in the National Council, include gender equality as a core objective in parliament’s internal policies, set up a dedicated gender monitoring office within parliament, consolidate the women’s caucus in the National Assembly by transforming it into a parliamentary standing committee, and possibly merge both houses’ caucuses, at the next sitting of the National Council (May 2018), convene a meeting between the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and the Women Caucus from both houses so as to define areas of joint cooperation.
It was also decided that Parliament should reach out to constituents to sensitise them on gender equality principles and legislation. At individual level, male MPs should speak up for gender equality and set a positive example to other men by challenging stereotypes on the respective roles of men and women (in the media and in their communities) and opposition political parties need to become more gender-sensitive, with the support of a quota in the electoral law.
In her closing statement that was presented on her behalf by the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs and an MP in the National Council Hon. Hilma Nicanor, the Chairperson of the National Council Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams said the just concluded seminar has helped the MPs to identify the issues on which they have done well but, most importantly, it has assisted them to identify the problem areas that need to be addressed to ensure that parliament become a more gender sensitive institution.
“The evidence collected by the Inter-Parliamentary Union shows that a more gender-balanced parliament delivers better on gender equality and is a more effective institution,” said Mensah-Williams.
“It is for this reason that I call upon you all to redouble your efforts and work even harder to remove the obstacles that still stand in our way. Women’s rights are human rights. Parliament should become a shining example in our society where women fully participate in the legislative process” she added.
The three day get together that included a number of gender experts was organized in conjunction with the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU). It followed a similar undertaking held in 2016 to look on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its implementation in Namibia.