By William J. Mbangula Oshakati Namibian elected women from the local and regional authorities gathered here for a four-day consultative meeting to discuss issues relating to gender development and financial management. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Namibian Elected Women Forum (NEWF) with assistance from and facilitation by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGEC). Other stakeholders in organising the meeting are the Namibian Parliament and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, which funded the event. MGEC official and one of the coordinators of the meeting, Christine Liswaniso told New Era that the women will be trained in various subjects such as gender mainstreaming, gender analysis tools, budgeting and gender budget monitoring. Participants came from as far as Opuwo, Kamanjab, Outjo and Khorixas in the Kunene region and Tsumeb in Oshikoto Region. Others were from Ruacana, Okahao and Oshikuku in the Omusati Region, from Ongwediva, Oshakati and Ondangwa in Oshana. In an opening speech delivered on his behalf by the Councillor of Oshakati East constituency Lotto Kuushomwa, the Governor of Oshana Clemens Kashuupulwa said that Namibia still faces challenges as it strives to achieve gender balance in political and managerial leadership. However, he pointed out that after 16 years of self-rule the meeting is expected to go a long way in the history of Namibia as having mapped a plan of action that will lead the country into drastic changes with regard to the advancement of women. Such changes should result in more women being elected as MPs, governors and regional councillors in future national, regional and local authorities elections. “The ball is in our hands with progressive men and women taking a lead in gender awareness creation throughout the country. For the past few years, Namibia has exhibited some type of window dressing with women only taking a lead behind the slogans of feminist principles. By so doing, we missed pace in our gender leadership advocacy process.” According to the governor, Namibia can only achieve gender balance in leadership positions if men and women work together in the struggle for women emancipation. However, he cautioned that in order to achieve this, there must be a harmonious gender environment as the basis from where to take off first. “I wish to stress that the political approach of condemning and pointing fingers at innocent men when some undesirable men indulge in criminal activities against women is not helpful.” Making blanket accusations against men, said the governor, may result in scaring off the majority of progressive men who wish to participate in the struggle for gender leadership balance.
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