n Eveline de Klerk
HENTIES BAY – Some women at the sparsely populated fishing town of Henties Bay can barely make ends meet due to a shortage of jobs while most of them make do as domestic workers.
They get as little as N$30 per day which is about N$900 a month or if they are lucky they earn at least N$100 a day or N$3,000 monthly.
The situation is severe and many of the women live in poverty, resulting in them finding refuge in alcohol and drug abuse, while young girls turn to prostitution to afford basic necessities.
Hence, the mayor of Henties Bay, Herman Honeb, saw the need to establish the Henties Bay Women’s Association to identify and set up self-sustainable projects that can economically empower women at the coastal town. He says the unemployment situation also negatively affects the town’s development.
“Council realised that if we want to change the face of Henties Bay we need to empower the women as we exclude them, while we know how valuable they are for development,” elaborated the mayor.
According to Honeb at least 80 percent of previously disadvantaged women are domestic workers and are single mothers, making it difficult to sustain their families. He added that most of them work for at least seven days a week to make as much as they can and thus spend little time at home.
“It is disheartening to see our women suffering so much, so the council decided to engage women and see how we can help them to become self-reliant by identifying training opportunities and programmes from various ministries that assist women to help them become part of mainstream economic activities,” he said.
He added that the council cannot also wait for the government to create jobs, thus council felt it necessary to organise women and address their plight.
“We really want to change the fortunes of our women as they deserve a better life, be it through self-initiative projects or the assistance of the private sector. However, to do this, we must organise ourselves and have one vision,” he said upon inquiry.
Maria Jansen, a jobless resident of Henties Bay, welcomed the initiative of the council.
“We are really suffering at Henties Bay as jobs are very scarce. In my situation I make ornaments and tablecloths but it would be good if I get assisted to market my goods,” she said.
Another woman, Selma Epafpras, said a serious intervention is indeed needed for women at Henties Bay as most of them depend on their husbands. “This in many cases leads to domestic violence. Therefore, we welcome the establishment of the organisation and urge all women of Henties Bay, to join,” she said.