OKAHANDJA – President Hifikepunye Pohamba has called on all female parliamentary-elects to participate energetically, openly and frankly when they take up their seats as MPs in the forthcoming 6th Parliament.
The outgoing president also implored them to ask pertinent questions on issues under discussion during debates.
“We are Namibians and not enemies. We must consult as Namibians,” he urged the 40 participants attending the seminar for newly elected female parliamentarians.
The five-day seminar opened by Pohamba at Gross Barmen Resort near Okahandja is being held under the theme, “Enhancing the Effective Participation of Women Parliamentarians in Namibian Politics.”
Delegates are to discuss a wide range of issues such as women’s roles in conflict prevention, peacemaking and maintenance, and cultural challenges.
The workshop aims to equip women to make meaningful contributions in parliament.
President Pohamba however cautioned them to be wary of journalists in the House as they do take pictures of members that fall asleep and MPs falling asleep could be exposed.
Pohamba called on female MPs to study the topics under discussion. “You need to read in order for you to contribute (meaningfully) to the debate,” he advised the future MPs many of whom will be backbenchers.
He said the Swapo Party leadership took 10 years to reach a conclusion on the discussion of 50/50 representation.
“It was not an easy thing. It was difficult. Men resisted, but finally we said it must be done. It is a noteworthy development for our democracy and inclusivity.”
Pohamba said Namibians must move away from the traditional ways of doing things and urged women to take up more leading roles in leadership positions and find solutions to the multitudes of challenges facing the nation. “We must build a society based on non-discrimination,” Pohamba informed delegates.
Foreign Affairs Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah who is the joint co-host of the seminar together with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare urged participants to be themselves at all times.
“Be yourself in the most positive way. Go out there and ensure the realisation of Vision 2030, the National Gender Policy (2010-2020) and its Plans of Action, National Development Plans, the AU Agenda 2063, Beijing Platform for Action, MDGs and all other national, regional and international instruments that Namibia is party to,” she told delegates.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said since Namibia’s independence on 21 March 1990 there was the idea that there should be at least 40 percent women representation in the 6th National Assembly.
“It is a fact that has become possible, thanks to Swapo Party that has taken a bold decision to amend its constitution that brought about 50/50 women and men representation in all party structures,” she stated.
She made it clear that coming together at such a historical seminar does not mean that women lack leadership capacity or technical capabilities, but the purpose is to strategise as women, to ensure their contribution as elected MPs is meaningful and effective.
Delegates also praised Pohamba for recently winning the 2014 Mo-Ibrahim African Leadership Award.