Leading the way towards equality for all

Dear Editor,

THIS year, the UN commemorates International Women’s Day (IWD) under extraordinary circumstances. All of us have had our lives transformed over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the challenges we have faced individually are not uniform. 

We have seen how Covid has disproportionately affected marginalised communities in Namibia and around the world, in which inequalities are increasing and opportunities are decreasing.  As people around the globe reimagine, reshape, and rebuild the world after a challenging year, everyone must embrace change as we strive toward equality for all.  With this in mind, the United Nations has designated this years’ IWD theme as ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’, to highlight the importance of gender equality.

As outlined within the17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN is committed to reducing inequality across the world by 2030 – though, we recognise that this goal may only be realised when there is full participation from all sectors of the society. Therefore, I would like to commend the Government of Namibia for the strides it has taken in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Namibia has become a world leader in these efforts, as seen in the strong representation of women in parliamentary positions, increased spending on education for girls, reduction of the gender pay gap, and by providing women more access to economic opportunities and leadership roles.  However, even with all these efforts, the Covid-19 pandemic has shed a light on large disparities in the society. 

It has become even more evident that pressing issues in equality, including gender, need to be addressed urgently.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the UN Namibia calls for more action, to recommit ourselves and our society towards promoting gender equality, and I encourage all Namibians to reflect on the ways they can contribute this cause.  I would like to call upon the authorities not to relent in their efforts to prevent rape and other forms of sexual violence that harm the lives and dignity of countless women and adolescents in Namibia and around the world every year.

Tolerance with gender-based violence must not have a place in society. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, let us remain focused and work towards innovative ways to advance gender equality and empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

Throughout ancient and modern history, women have collaborated and lead purposeful action to redress inequality in the hope of a better future for their communities, children and themselves.

To commemorate the 110th anniversary of the International Women’s Day, I am calling on all Namibians to mark the IWD by reflecting on “extraordinary accomplishments of women in shaping the future and standing up for their rights.” On this special day, I would like to honour all women who are working tirelessly across all industries including government, health care, education, law enforcement, business, tourism, science, engineering, and others for their vision, creativity, perseverance, and ingenuity as we become stronger as a nation thanks to their efforts.

UN Namibia invites all Namibians to celebrate inspiring women in their lives by tagging UN Namibia in their social media post or honouring a woman whose efforts had made a difference in the fight against inequality.

Happy Women’s Day!

Sen Pang is the UN Resident Coordinator to Namibia