The Deputy Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Christine // Hoebes, said alongside economic policies that can create decent jobs, measures are needed to challenge the persistent devaluation of “women’s work” that drives occupational segregation and gender pay gaps.
//Hoebes said although concrete information is available about the gender pay gap in Namibia, it still exists as it does elsewhere in the world.
The deputy minister made the remarks during the 9th Namibian Women Summit held under the theme, ‘Women embracing change for prosperity.’ The summit was held last week in Windhoek from August 12 to 14. While delivering her remarks //Hoebes announced that her brother passed away on Thursday, but because she had a task to do she arrived at the summit venue on Friday morning to deliver her speech. “God honours faithfulness. Be faithful in whatever you set your mind to and what you promise to do … God honours [that],” she said before reading a speech on behalf of the Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
She said in the European Union (EU), for instance, women earn around 16 percent less per hour than men and there are many reasons for this phenomenon. //Hoebes said one is that women are the majority of part-time workers.
She said the other reason is that women’s skills and competences are often undervalued, especially in occupations where they are in the majority.
“Women are also under-presented in professional occupations. Only about 43 percent of professionals in Namibia are women. If left unattended, the impact of the gender pay gap means that women earn less over their lifetime.
This, in turn, will result in lower retirement savings and a risk of poverty in old age,” // Hoebes elaborated. She added the pace in terms of employing women at management level in Namibia is slow as evidenced by the fact that men still occupy 59 percent of management positions in the public service, while women only fill 41 percent of those positions.
For women to succeed in office, she suggests, it is necessary to strengthen their capacity for leadership. “It is also necessary that voters support them. Believing in women’s experience to bring about wider social change and an end to inequality, in particular, means that training for women who are aspiring for leadership position needs to ensure that women are willing and able to promote gender equality while governing.”
She said that according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Namibia stood 10th highest in the world (jointly with Iceland and Nicaragua), in terms of female representation in the National Assembly with a 41.3 percent representation. She further said 10 years ago, Namibia landed in 21st position with a 26.9 percent female representation. “I am convinced that after the regional council elections in November this year Namibia should be able to move further up on the IPU ranking. Rwanda is still leading the world ranking with a female representation of 63.8 percent.”