In order to combat GBV in Namibia we must understand and confront our own gender biases. In fact we cannot speak of GBV without addressing our personal prejudices towards gender equality. The Namibian National Gender Policy 2010-2020 states that "The family remains the corner stone of Namibian life, and gender equality in the family context is vital to ensuring equal rights for women in our society". This means that above all else the change we are advocating for, must begin in our homes, with open conversations on all issues gender and the challenging of toxic masculinity and toxic gender norms alike. We have to acknowledge our fear and misconceptions that women are trying to take over or be better than men, or that they are lesser in some way, and this process must begin at home.
Gender based violence is the broader spectrum of violence towards everyone (trans people, and the LGBTIQ+) included) and does not refer to the binary women/men only. Within this we have at an alarming rate the occurrence of violence against women (VAW).
Just saying "Let us stop GBV" or "Stop killing our women" during a national speech or campaign, will not be enough in the process of reducing these atrocities in our society, we need more effective forms of addressing gender based violence, especially violence against women in our nation.
Gender-based violence for the longest time in Namibia has been paraded with the face of women. Meaning, activists against violence have been women, majority of victims of violent crimes have been women, protesters on the streets have been women, and platforms that are created to address issues are organized by women and the majority of attendants are women, in fact more when we talk about gender, people assume we are talking about women or that it's a women's issue only.
Women are only half of the engine force required to manage this giant problem, and in order for us to be fully operational in combating it, we need men on board as well. In order for us to truly contribute and change the message we send in terms of our responsibility towards the elimination of GBV and VAW, the advocacy towards the cause must be strongly accompanied by men's voices and actions alike.
As it is a societal problem of anguish and grave consequence, all of us; gender activists, men, politicians, church leaders and the larger community needs to robustly engage on the matter.
The ministry of gender and child welfare has developed action plans especially the National Plan of Action on Gender-Based Violence 2012-2016, Strategic Action 2, 2,7 "...to mobilise grassroots communities in preventative initiatives..." The plan directly includes men and we have the National Gender policy and other instruments in place to guide our actions further.
We need not a duplication of work, but rather fully carry out plans we've already developed, especially those done by feminist movements and gender coalitions. The issue cannot be addressed without the partnerships involving civil society, the ministry of gender and all stakeholders and citizens. Furthermore there should be a provision of required and necessary resources availed to the plight, policy and programs.
The condemnation of GBVA/AW requires more than lip service. We need to embrace all our various platforms and mediums to fight, and especially with the growth of the digital world and social media, we can easily expand and amplify our call and action further, demanding for change through online activism. Let us use every individuals' phone as a tool to sensitise and start a wave of change. As an extension of the so-called analogue life, the internet can be a transformative public and political space through which we can promote a safe and equitable culture without bias and toxicity.
Let us deconstruct toxic gendered crimes, let us face the fact that GBV, specifically violence against women is a symptom of toxic masculinity and inequality we allow in our every day.
The actions we tolerate today become the blueprint for those who are watching and looking up to us as examples. So let us be sure that the example we build and leave behind is that of progressiveness and not of harm.
by Elsarien A. Katiti * photograph Contributed
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|Title Annotation:||gender based violence|
|Author:||Katiti, Elsarien A.|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2019|
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