26 Nov 2010 - Story by Chrispin Inambao
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KATIMA MULILO ' Failure by women to elect each other during primary polls resulted in Swapo being unable to field female candidates at regional level.
Deputy Katima Mulilo Mayor, Georgina Mwiya-Simataa, expressed this sentiment last week.
The absence of women as council candidates for the regional and local authority elections due tomorrow did not go unnoticed when President Hifikepunye Pohamba recently visited Caprivi.
'There will be no women in the council. What is happening? Are you still suppressed,' Pohamba asked the women at a rally at Sibbinda.
He urged women to change and champion gender parity by contesting and standing as political contestants in regional and local authority elections.
'In the next elections, I want to see women standing as Members of Parliament'.
The absence of female candidates following the failure by Dorothy Kabula, the incumbent and sole female councillor representing Linyanti, is seen as a serious empowerment problem.
Outgoing Kabula was the only councillor in a regional council dominated by men but that could become an all-male council after this week's polls.
Though the regional council is set to be all-male, the local authority is doing fairly well as the Deputy Mayor Georgina Mwiya-Simataa is among the three women set to retain their seats in the face of a weak opposition challenge at local authority level.
Other women at local authority most likely to retain their seats include the chairperson of the Management Committee Nsala Muhongo-Mapenzi and Ester Sankwasa, the Deputy Chairperson of the Management Committee.
'For me in general, the first point I would like to make is we women, who are in positions in Swapo structures, should motivate fellow women who want to enter into politics because other women do not know how to enter politics but they want to,' she said.
She urged women's wings of various parties to educate women about their political rights.
She believes the reason gender parity remains an illusion 'and women cannot make it is because they do not vote for other women. Women do not vote for other women because of a lack of confidence in fellow women, so we end up voting for men.'
The deputy mayor said culture also plays a part in that women have a mindset that 'men come first'.
'We are brought up to believe that men should come first. But the main issue is we are supposed to modify some of these cultures and have confidence in each other. It seems we ourselves do not trust that we have the competences to do things like our male counterparts,' said the former exile.
'I can give an example that when we were in exile we were taught to fight alongside men, we were having women as commanders,' said the deputy mayor, whose role models include former Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, and Swapo Secretary-General Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.
She said women should be self-confident and strive for gender parity.
'There is also the element of lack of support from our husbands and if your husband does not support you, there is no way you could succeed,' she said.
'But if I become a president, my husband will become respected and if I am in decision-making, it does not mean my husband is a failure. Instead he should be proud of me,' she said.
Namibia prescribes to a SADC protocol that advocates the attainment by 2015 of 50/50 gender parity at different layers of political representation.
Gender refers to the different societal expectations, norms and values ascribed to women and men, boys and girls in a particular society and culture.
Women constitute 51 percent of the population in Namibia. While gender equality is enshrined in the Constitution, which takes precedence to customary, and common law, the daily lives of the vast majority of women continue being determined by customary law and this relegates them to a minor status under their fathers, husbands, sons and male relatives.
Women own only a tiny fraction of land and property and widows are often disinherited of family property.