By Anna Shilongo
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has revealed plans to establish an association for the San women in different communities.
The envisioned association would create a platform for the most disadvantaged group in Namibia to express their concerns before they are presented to government for action.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Sirkka Ausiku, told New Era yesterday that through the association, San women would meet once or twice a year to discus issues affecting their respective communities.
The association is in line with the ministry’s strategic plan of assisting women in their goals.
Ausiku stressed there is a need to assist San women with all their needs.
“It is only through joint efforts that government can assist the previously marginalized communities to be on par with all. They need to be organized as women in order to articulate all their ideas,” said Ausiku.
The ministry recently joined hands with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, who has been spearheading a campaign to improve their lot.
So far, Omaheke San women have already formed an association while plans are under way to set up same organizations in the Tsumkwe, Omega, Okongo, Tsintsabes, Bravo, Caprivi, Otjozondjupa and Oshikoto areas.
The two parties are also working hard to sensitize San women on the importance of such organization, Ausiku said.
Last month, the ministry deployed some of its workers to Omega while the Deputy Prime Minister is currently on a five-day visit in the Omaheke Region as part of the San Development Programme.
The permanent secretary says the ministry plans to officiate the association in all regions by the end of November this year.
The associations, she added, would be able to solve developmental issues affecting the San communities.
“There is a need for them to sit and share experiences. The ministry has also started with exchange programmes in Tsumkwe and Tsintsabes, whereby these women visit each other’s communities to see how others handle their issues, while others will also follow at a later stage,” said Ausiku.
The San communities are also being encouraged to stand up for their rights as well as to try not to depend on the government all the time.
“They come up with amicable ideas and business initiatives that will enable them to be self-sustainable or meet government halfway. San people are very creative and talented people, provided they are assisted and sensitised on the importance of self-sustainability,” she told New Era.
Although they face numerous challenges, such as lack of shelter and education, poverty and hunger, government has done all it can to improve the living standards of these people by providing them with the essential needs.
Not long ago the ministry constructed a community development centre where different informative programmes are being carried out.
At the centre, San people are being trained in how to make use of modern facilities such as the Internet. Informative video-conferencing shows on violence against women and child abuse are also being carried out, said the permanent secretary.
Ausiku noted that the San have shown interest in starting up small projects for themselves, only that there are no markets for them to sell their products.
Others are reported to travel long distances in search of buyers.
“Some apparently go as far as Grootfontein to sell their products despite the long distance,” said Ausiku.
The ministry on an annual basis books a stall at national trade fairs and shows, for such communities to display their merchandise.