Women’s Development Needs Speeding Up

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Marlene Mungunda, has expressed concern over the slow pace of development of women in the country. She said women have a prolonged life of being disadvantaged especially when it comes to developmental issues. “The situation, though we may have good laws and policies in place, is noticed to be changing at a snail’s pace,” she told a workshop to look at reviewing the National Gender Policy yesterday. If the country is to develop faster and enjoy prosperity, the national policy on gender should be a policy that accelerates the development of women, Mungunda said, adding that the development of women should be accorded special treatment and must come out clearly in the revised policy. The National Gender Policy is undergoing review to ensure that all government and private sector institutions are able to mainstream gender into their programmes and activities. The country needs a policy to provide guidelines for the promotion of women’s empowerment and also to facilitate the implementation of gender equality national law policies and commitments, as well as international conventions and protocols. It also serves as a guideline for all stakeholders in implementing gender equality programmes. Representatives of various ministries and institutions yesterday met to review and update the policy, which was developed in 1997. Areas of concern include gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, human rights, vulnerable children, women’s empowerment, women’s poverty and economy, women in decision-making, women and health, reproductive services and also media regarding the continued projection of degrading and negative images of females. The policy aims at contributing to strengthening national processes and mechanisms for development in which both men and women have equal access and control over all resources and equally participate in all spheres of life and benefit from all development processes. The policy objectives are, among others, to create an enabling environment for the empowerment of women in order to ensure their full participation in socio-economic and decision-making processes in all sectors, and also to define mechanisms and structures for monitoring and evaluation in order to assess effective implementation of gender policy objectives. With the ministry as the leading agency, the policy provides for a Gender Commission to be appointed by the President, which shall be a legal body to reinforce the implementation of the policy.