Namibia celebrates its internal women’s day on the 10th of December each year, which is the very day it commemorates Human Rights Day. And it is fitting that the Namibian woman is celebrated on this day on which nearly six decades ago women and children – and indeed all black Namibians – were stripped of their dignity as humans when they were forcefully relocated from Windhoek’s Old Location to Katutura. On that day the Namibian women stood their ground, – on equal footing with their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons – to put up fierce resistance against the evils of apartheid. In the narration of the history a few names are mentioned for their sacrifices, such as Anna Kakurukaze Mungunda, who perished on that day. However, the annals of history are stuffed with evidence of the many women – from ordinary housewives to professional women of the day – of whom all on that day came to the party to alter the history of our country as we know it today.
Yet, if we are to truly commit to live up to the sacrifices of these women, then we ought not to celebrate Women’s Day through a narrative of the history or empty talk of our collective aspirations.
Instead, it is time the discourse of true gender equality by 2030 is enhanced by practical steps. A glance at the type of social hurdles, and evils, facing women in other countries show that, indeed, unless practical steps are taken, nothing would ever materialise despite the many pledges, affirmations, declarations, selfies, and hash-tags that we continue to indulge in.
A recent study showed that women – even in the developed world – are more likely to encourage violence at home, including sexual violence, by people they trust, a spouse or partner, than by a stranger in the street.
More shockingly, women the world over continue to be discriminated at in the workplace, while getting paid less than their male counterparts. The number of women in leadership positions, either corporate or political, might have increased but the challenges women face have not really become less. Women still have to assert themselves much more than their male counterparts.
The challenges are endless, when considering the empowerment programmes that are much needed for the girl child, especially those in the rural developing world. They are the ones who need to build confidence and self-esteem to accept that indeed they too belong in this world, and can equally achieve anything they so desire to achieve.
Namibia has done fairly well this year, with women going all out to live up to the declaration of gender equality.
Some of them are profiled in this edition, however, the list shown in here is not exhaustive. There are many more women who have done much more yet those who work have been shielded from the limelight, either by design or omission. It is those women – and all of them – whom we celebrate on this day.