The topic of ‘women empowerment’ is a burning issue all over the world and Namibia as a country is under immense pressure to fully embrace its principles both at home and in the workplace. Enjoying equal attention is gender equality – also a universal hot topic.
In the context of Namibia, women empowerment is simply defined as the process of improving the social, economic, political and legal strength of women, to ensure their rights are enjoyed in equal measure as those of men, and to boost their confidence of claiming their rights. These rights include determining their financial and economic choices and not necessarily to depend on their male counterparts.
Women empowerment requires girls and women to have equal rights for political, religious, social and economic justice, as well as equal opportunity for education and employment without any bias.
It is on that basis that the government of the Republic of Namibia identified women empowerment as one of the key constituent elements of poverty reduction, and as a primary development assistance goal. The promotion of women empowerment as a development goal is always expressed through an old axiom that states that if you educate a woman and empower her you empower the whole community and society.
Men and women play a paramount role in the formation and development of families in particular and the society in common. Difference in physical form and sex implies no difference in status or reputation. Women are the companions to men, and not subordinate. The Namibian society traditionally considered women as an oppressed section and they were neglected for decades. For example, when a child was born, families and society initiated the task of gendering where the birth of the son was celebrated while a daughter was regarded as a joke. Boys were inspired to be tough and outgoing whereas girls were supposed to be homebound and shy.
These differences were created by the society and were assumed as gender differences. It had adverse effects on the development goals of girls and women and consequently on the economic growth. It hampers the overall well-being of the society by obstructing participation of women in social, political and economic activities. Therefore, women empowerment is a necessity which can remove the societal constructed bias instituted against women and girls.
It is worth noting that women empowerment is a multi-dimensional process which enables individuals or a group of individuals or Namibian citizens to realize their full identity and powers in all spheres of life. For a nation like Namibia where there is an increase in gender-based violence especially against women by intimate male partners, empowering women at the workplace and at home to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to building stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families, and communities.
Women empowerment in Namibia can help to fulfil the human rights or individual rights of the girl child and Namibian women. Women are human beings with senses, imagination and thoughts; they should be able to express themselves freely. Individual empowerment means to have the self-confidence to articulate and assert the power to negotiate and decide.
It’s thus arguably that a society that has empowered women may benefit in the following ways;
Women empowerment helps to deal with under-employment and unemployment of women: Women population constitutes around 50 percent of the world population. In Namibia women constitute more than 50 percent of the approximately 2.4 million citizens. A large number of Namibian women are unemployed and this contributes to poverty levels amongst Namibian women. The world economy suffers a lot because of the unequal opportunity for women at workplaces. In order to deal with this problem, women empowerment is important to address under-employment and unemployment in Namibia as the majority of Namibian women play an important role in crop production and help in ensuring food security. If women are not employed, the global economy will be adversely affected as women constitute a vast chunk of the world’s population
Equally competent and intelligent: Women are equally competent. Nowadays, women are even ahead of men in many socio-economic activities such as: women are highly creative and intelligent which makes it imperative to receive their contributions in socio-economic activities
Talented: Women are as talented as men. Previously, women were not allowed higher education like men and hence their talents were wasted. But nowadays, they are also allowed to go for higher studies and it encourages women to show their talents, which will not only benefit her individually but the whole world at large. Today, a lot of women are occupying top positions in State Owned Enterprises (SEOs) in Namibia, the private sector and the public sector which is beneficial to the whole society.
Overall development of society: The main advantage of women empowerment is that there will be an overall development of the society. The money that women earn does not only help them and or their family, but it also helps to develop the society.
Economic Benefits: Women empowerment also leads to more economic benefits not only to the individuals but to the society as well. Unlike earlier days when they stayed at home only and did only kitchen stuff, nowadays they roam outside and also earn money like the male members of the society. Women empowerment helps women to stand on their own, become independent and also to earn for their family, which grows the country’s economy.
Reduction in domestic violence: Women empowerment may lead to a decrease in domestic violence because it is generally believed that women who are empowered know their rights as opposed to those that are not empowered. There is a general belief that empowered women may report incidences of gender-based violence on time and seek assistance unlike women who are not empowered, deterred by low self-esteem and always shy to come out for assistance. This entails that women empowerment acts as a powerful tool against exploitation and harassment of women, and this will help to reduce gender-based violence normally committed by some Namibian men on their intimate partners.