Women lose out in regional council elections

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The 2015 Regional Council election is a major backslide for gender equity in Namibia, both in terms of women’s participation as candidates in the election, and in terms of the final outcome.

Only 16% of the 121 regional councillors for the next five years are women (i.e. 20 out of 121). This is a far cry from the 50% target in Namibia’s National Gender Policy, the National Gender Plan of Action, the SADC Gender Protocol, and several other national policies or regional/international instruments which Namibia has ratified.

Regional councils are tasked with the planning and development of their regions. And development requires the active voice of women in the decision making process.

Two regional councils – Omaheke and Zambezi – have no female councillors.

Seven regional councils each have only one woman on their councils. These are Hardap, //Karas, Kavango East, Kavango West, Kunene, Ohangwena and Omusati.

Erongo, Oshana and Oshikoto regional councils each have two women on their councils.

Khomas and Otjozondjupa are the most representative for women, with women occupying 4 of the 10 constituency seats in Khomas Region, and 3 of the 7 seats in Otjozondjupa.

Namibia made major strides in gender participation in the National Assembly election last year, with women making up 42% of MPs in the Assembly. This was thanks mainly to Swapo’s implementation of a 50/50 zebra party list. At the Local Authority level, women’s representation also scores well, due to quotas in place since the 1997 Local Authorities Amendment Act.

There is an opportunity for Namibia to redeem itself in the National Council though (to which each regional council nominates 3 councillors). Perhaps, for starters, councils (with women on them) could ensure that – at the very minimum – one of the 3 councillors sent to the National Council is a female councillor. SOURCE: ELECTION WATCH NAMIBIA

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