Parastatals Lag Behind

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Although Namibia’s public service has succeeded in achieving the 30 percent target as set out in the SADC Gender and Development Declaration of 1997, the same cannot be said of parastatals. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare conducted self-assessments on three sectors, namely, the public service, parastatals and the private sector to see whether the different sectors have attained the SADC Declaration of attaining 30 percent representation of women in decision-making positions by 2005. Twelve ministries, agencies and government offices achieved 33 percent and above of women in management positions, with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare achieving the highest at 75 percent. The government institutions that achieved more than 50 percent are the National Assembly, the National Council, the Auditor General’s Office and the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The worst performers in the public service are Central Intelligence (11 percent), Safety and Security (7 percent) and Defence (5 percent). “This is an indication of a societal perception that issues relating to productive resources such as land, mining, trade, defence and security are the male domain,” the publication said. Unlike this performance, women are under-represented in senior management, senior positions and at board levels in parastatals. Of the 31 state-owned enterprises that responded to the ministry’s request for information to be used for the assessment, 12 parastatals achieved the 30 percent representation, while 19 did not. The parastatals achieved 22 percent of women in management positions. Two parastatals, which achieved more than 50 percent, are the Namibia Institute of Pathology and the Namibia Tourism Board. Likewise, on the parastatal boards, which are the highest decision-making bodies running the affairs of these bodies, women are also underrepresented, constituting 29 percent. The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, which achieved 60 percent, is the highest achiever followed by the Namibia Institute of Pathology with 43 percent. Others that achieved 40 percent include New Era Publications Corporation, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, Electricity Control Board, Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority, Roads Authority and the Namibia Tourism Board. Like in many other countries, women in Namibia make up more than half the population although they are underrepresented in crucial political and decision-making structures at most levels. Experience in other countries shows that where women make up more than 30 percent in decision-making structures, they bring different perspectives to the process of equality of decision as more attention is paid to social issues that affect women adversely. Some of these issues are education, health and social welfare. The publication on the statistics of women and men in the public service says that the government’s commitment towards the empowerment of women is invisible at all levels of society. Despite the progress especially in government ministries, the document said it is regrettable that although women are on par with their male counterparts in the overall public service, they are located at the bottom of the ladder as they make up the majority of non-managerial positions. At a meeting of ministers responsible for gender in November in Lesotho, the officials acknowledged with concern the slow progress in addressing the gender disparities that exist in SADC member states as gaps between men and women in social and economic spheres which were prevalent despite legal and policy instruments that have been signed and ratified by member states. To provide clear targets and indicators to enhance accountability and monitoring mechanisms, the region is working on a Protocol of Gender and Development, which will be a practical demonstration that the region is prepared to translate its commitments into action. Permanent Secretary of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Sirkka Ausiku, told New Era yesterday the declaration is being changed into a protocol which envisages to be adopted in May 2007 when the heads of state of the region meet. “It will then be a legally binding document for member states to adhere to,” she said. The objectives of the protocol, which is still in draft form, are to bring together one legally binding regional instrument of all commitments to gender equality that have been made through the Beijing Declaration, its Platform of Action and the SADC Declaration among others. The protocol will enhance these commitments where gaps have been identified while addressing emerging issues and concerns. It will also set realistic measurable targets, time frames and indicators and allocate resources for achieving the targets.

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