By Petronella Sibeene
About 40 women from all walks of life met for a retreat last weekend at Waterberg in Otjiwarongo district, where they received therapeutic and relaxation massages among other be-good-to-yourself services.
Because women tend to nurture relationships more than they nurture themselves, it is often a challenge for most of them to carve out the space and time they need for private renewal and reflection.
Thus the holistic women’s retreat as organised by Gems Magazine enabled about 40 women from different backgrounds to take time out to the Waterberg Plateau Resort whose scenery, brilliant blue skies, fascinating rock formations and endless horizons open up thoughts of unexplored potential and dreams unrealised.
The two-day retreat created a quiet and supportive space that allowed the women to take a step back from their lives, receive massages and learn a few yoga tricks.
These women had some “ME TIME” and the short time away from their busy lives, they were able to rejuvenate, revive, relax, refresh, reconnect, relinquish, reinforce and be independent.
“This is a special weekend for us women to relax, to learn; to enjoy and to have fun being away from our busy schedules. Let us feel free to celebrate the contributions we make as women in every aspect of our lives. In the home, on the job, in our communities, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens and leaders,” founder of Gems Magazine, Kandeshi Shipepe, said.
Unlike in many other countries, it is rare in Namibia to find a platform where women come together and discuss issues that they cannot necessarily discuss with their families, husbands and children.
“So, this weekend is a coming together, precisely, the same way women come together in many countries. Women in other countries come together in fields and in factories, in villages and at open markets, in living rooms and board rooms and talk about those things that women do talk about when men and children are NOT around,” Shipepe added.
True to that, last weekend women were able to focus their attention on issues that matter most in their lives as women.
The retreat composed of women from the business arena, emerging entrepreneurs, housewives, ministers, UN agencies and ambassadors among others.
They shared views on HIV/Aids, abusive partners, challenges in the business sector, how to handle one’s family, communication and the intimate woman.
Speakers also urged women to have a sense of culture and take strength in the rich cultural pride. They were encouraged to identify their talents and duties that make their world a better place.
Shipepe feels it is gatherings such as this that make women’s voices heard in their homes, neighbourhoods and workplaces.
“It is gatherings like this that compel governments, parastatals, NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and people in Namibia to listen, look and face women’s most pressing problems,” she reiterated.
She, however, lamented that women, despite being the primary caretakers for most of the world’s children and elderly, much of the work done is not valued and appreciated.
Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, commended mothers of the idea, adding that such platforms give women an opportunity to get to know themselves and identify ways in which they can get empowered.
“It’s a balancing exercise that teaches women how to prioritise and be able to reach targeted goals,” she said. The minister added that the platform also armed women with thoughts of how they can “undress” and “terminate” the old thinking and attitudes that for years have hindered women’s growth.
Joyce Mend-Cole, Representative of the United Nations Human Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), shared the same sentiments with Nandi-Ndaitwah, adding that women should take some time out to share ideas and learn from one another. This will give them a sense that what they are going through is not unique to them.
Also Spanish Ambassador to Namibia, Maria Victoria Pliego, acknowledged that Namibia has many women of substance and despite different backgrounds, women have a lot in common.
Shipepe said the idea was to make them (women) laugh loud, cry freely without shame of a husband or neighbours or children, reflect and assess their goals, priorities in their personal and professional lives.