Katima Mulilo-The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Doreen Sioka, has condemned child marriages, saying it is the worst kind of atrocity performed in the name of culture, which is equivalent to murder as it permanently damages the future of an innocent Namibian child.
“Child marriage is really a bad thing. It is a shame that we should even be having such things happening right in our homes and in our neighbourhoods and we turn a blind eye to them. I thus call upon all of us to work towards its total elimination in our respective societies,” she said.
She further urged the gathering to consider education more important in comparison to lobola that some parents target.
“Education is the main key to wealth. If you want to be rich, just send your girl child [to school] to be educated. Let us go out and talk to our neighbours and tell them about the importance of education. Let us not give away our children,” stressed Sioka.
She made the remarks at the national celebration of International Women’s Day at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region.
Namibia joins the international community to commemorate the day, where women from all walks of life come together to celebrate their roles across the world in the socio-economic developments of their countries.
This year, the day was celebrated under the theme: “From Peace in the Home, to Peace in Namibia: Press for Progress”.
On the theme, Sioka urged the gathering to press for progress in advancing women’s economic empowerment, progress in eliminating gender-based violence and child marriage.
She said Namibia is one of the countries where women have made greater strides.
“We now boast far more female representation in our Parliament than ever before. The proportion of women in Parliament is now at 40 percent, resulting in the ranking of the country among the top African countries, which have advanced women in decision-making structures,” revealed Sioka.
Although women are well represented in politics at national level in the country, there is a low representation in regional governance structures. According to Sioka, the 2015 Regional Council election yielded only 16 percent of women out of the 121 candidates. Two regional councils namely Omaheke and Zambezi have no female councillors.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Executive Director of Women’s Action for Development, Salatiel Shinedima, urged women to unite in fighting against poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS, which have claimed so many innocent lives.
He added that women should not undo the roles, which they can and should fulfil in their communities by pulling fellow women down.
“The sad reality is that many women would rather vote for a man than for a woman because the ugly face of jealousy and a lack of faith in women’s abilities to excel are pulling them down,” said Shinedima.
He added that the so-called pull-her-down syndrome among women is extremely dangerous for women’s advancement in society because the more women fight among themselves, the longer men will continue to rule on their own.
Heads of department from different institutions, learners and community members gathered in numbers to celebrate the day.
*Hilma Nakanduungile is an information officer in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology based in Zambezi Region