US govt funds programme for youth

• By Staff Reporter

THE U.S. government-funded DREAMS Programme recently certified 23 young Namibian women as No-Means-No instructors to train adolescent girls in techniques to protect themselves against gender-based violence (GBV).

The training strengthens self-esteem in young women and includes exercises in self-defence.

“The No-Means-No instructors will play a pivotal role in addressing violence against children and gender-based violence by demonstrating what it looks like to be empowered and confident, and to have the skills to prevent or escape violent situations. This is even more important given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on child and gender-based violence,” said Jessica Long, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy at the graduation ceremony this month in Windhoek.

The 2013 Demographic Health Survey showed that one in three Namibian women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced physical violence.

Data indicates that the situation has worsened during the recent Covid-19 lockdowns, resulting in more abuse and a significant increase in teenage pregnancies.

Confidente reported that last year 97 girls dropped out of school in the Kavango East region after falling pregnant during the lockdown period which began in March 2020.

In 2019 from September to December, Namibia recorded 2 943 teenage pregnancies; Ohangwena being the highest with 575, Omusati 470, Kavango East 394, Oshikoto 290, Kavango West 216, Kunene 204, Zambezi 156, Oshana 150, Otjozondjupa 134, Khomas 122, Omaheke 92, Erongo 66, Hardap 38 and //Kharas being the lowest with 36.

DREAMS stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe and has already enrolled more than 50 000 young women and girls in Namibia.

The programme is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“USAID is committed to its work addressing gender inequality and gender-based violence, which affects us all and is present in all societies. That is why we all have a role to play, and we should support programs that address this social ill,” said acting USAID country representative Mark Anthony White.

The new instructors will provide No-Means-No training in the Khomas, Oshikoto and Zambezi regions, where the DREAMS programme is implemented by Project Hope Namibia and partners.