By Petronella Sibeene
President Hifikepunye Pohamba has urged Namibians to do away with restrictive cultural practices and customs that impoverish and enslave women.
Despite modernisation and globalisation of cultures, practices aimed at restricting women’s growth at social, economic and political levels remain in force in some cultures where women are mainly confined to the kitchen and to do domestic chores.
While women and men are different biologically, all cultures interpret and elaborate these innate biological differences into a set of social expectations about what behaviours and activities are appropriate and what rights, resources and power they possess.
In Namibia, like in many other countries, some cultures still believe women should not be professionals but rather be at home and do all house chores.
There are some tribes that still exercise such practices, the Head of State says, yet the practices hinders development. He added that research has shown that women are meticulous and reticulate in planning and implementing strategies.
The President said time has come for Namibia to address the stumbling blocks to attaining gender equality.
He said women’s contribution to the development of the country constitutes an invaluable asset base that must be jealously guarded and utilised for the benefit of Namibia.
A World Bank policy research report shows that gender equality is crucial to reducing poverty and good governance.
“Promoting gender equality is thus an important part of a development strategy that seeks to enable both women and men to escape poverty and improve their standard of living”, the report says.
Pohamba singled out the agricultural sector as one area that constitutes the mainstay of the countries’ economy with women being the majority toiling in crop production.
Because of that, he called upon Namibians to invest in this sector in order to assist women who by nature, he believes, are agriculturists.
“We should go beyond traditional farming methods by employing modern technology suitable for our arid country,” Pohamba said.
Despite the rise in women’s involvement in different sectors, women continue to earn less than men – even when they have the same qualifications and experience.
Pohamba said advocacy and gender equality have been on the Government’s agenda and time has come for the country to determine the progress made in ensuring that women are included at all decision-making and development levels.
“Namibia will emerge as the champion of gender equality worth being emulated by other nations,” the President said.
He called on Namibian men to continue to love their wives and together take responsibility for the welfare of their children. Women were equally urged to reciprocate that love to build a strong nation with strong family bonds.
The President said this in a statement read on his behalf by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, during the Women’s Celebratory March held yesterday in the capital.