WINDHOEK: No woman should ever feel that her prospects are so limited that her only option is to dump her baby, First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba said on Monday.
She stressed that every baby dumped in Namibia is a precious life lost, whilst opening the three-day rural women’s Parliament session underway in Windhoek.
The first-ever rural women’s empowerment Parliament session, which is aimed at empowering women on grassroots level with regards to Namibia’s democratic processes, is being hosted by the National Council’s Standing Committee on Women Caucus.
The event commenced at the National Council Chambers this morning.
Pohamba said she has heard of many young mothers dumping their babies because the fathers of these children had rejected the babies and refused to take responsibility for them, or because one of the parents had been diagonised with HIV/AIDS.
Women should become protectors of the vulnerable and innocent babies born to them, she stressed.
She also called on the ‘Parliamentarians’ to support pregnant women and encourage men to take on their parental responsibilities so that every child will have love and protection.
“We need to make sure that all parents know about the Government support they can access, and about options such as foster care and adoption,” she further stated.
She also encouraged those in attendance to actively participate in the sessions so that along with men, they can become a proud nation that other nations would like emulate.
“We want to be a proud and peaceful country where gender equality becomes a precious gem any person would want to keep and preserve, and a country where anybody from around the world would want to come and stay either as a permanent residence permit holder or as a citizen,” she said.
Meanwhile, Vice Chairperson of the National Council Margaret Mensah-Williams said the main reason for this week’s gathering at the National Council Chambers is for the hard-earned revolutionary achievements and the heroic struggles waged by both women and men who sacrificed their lives to liberate Namibia and its people from the bondage of patriarchy and all other forms of gender discrimination, to be acknowledged and celebrated.
She said the “heroic and revolutionary struggles” which led to the country’s political freedom on 21 March 1990 continue to serve as a guiding light that will keep the nation on course for many decades to come.
“Despite the challenges that we are yet to overcome as a nation, especially those dealing with gender inequality, we are proud as a country for the many ground-breaking achievements we have collectively made in terms of gender relations,” she said.
The Vice Chairperson of the National Council stated that Namibia can be proud of the fact that it has some of the most progressive policies aimed at advancing women empowerment and gender equality.
“However, the challenge which remains is the translation of these policies and legislative frameworks into implementation,” she added.
Mensah-Williams then urged the ‘Parliamentarians’ to conduct their deliberations freely and respectfully and said the most important thing is that solutions should emanate from the discussions.
“We as women Parliamentarians would like to hear from you as to how best you want us to ensure that your concerns and issues are incorporated into some of the legislative policies and frameworks,” she said.
Two women and one man from each of the country’s 13 regions are attending the Special Parliament session under the theme ‘Promoting Gender Equality in the Democratic Process from the Lense of Grassroots Women’.
Topics to be debated include child-bearing, maternal and child deaths, as well as issues concerning violence, illegal abortion, baby dumping, passion killing, and suicide, amongst other topics.
The attendees will also deliberate on issues of economic empowerment, while the Ministry of Trade and Industry will explain to the women how the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank, which is yet to be launched, will operate.
The gathering was initiated by the National Council`s Women Caucus in accordance with resolutions taken at the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women last year.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women.
Every year, representatives of Member States gather at the UN headquarters to evaluate progress made on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.