Women remain "less than equal"

By Lucienne Fild, in The Namibian, 5 April, 1995

NAMIBIAN women continue to be disadvantaged in many ways including employment, remuneration and responsibility, gender statistics reveal. Addressing these issues during her first public engagement since she was sworn in as Director-General of the National Planning Commission, Sarah Kuugongelwa yesterday said proper planning to improve the situation of women could only be realised through the availability of reliable data.

Kuugongelwa was officially opening a two-day workshop on gender statistics in Windhoek. She said even though both women and men are intensively engaged in economic production and in organising the community, women have limited access to resources and do not participate equally in economic life where they are left out of decision-making and receive lower levels of responsibility and remuneration compared to men.

"While much has been done over the years to eliminate legal obstacles to the equality between the sexes, women and men still play very different roles in society and have very different opportunities in life." According to Kuugongelwa, gender statistics can play an important role in changing gender inequality. Currently the Central Statistics Office (CSO) under the National Planning Commission is compiling and producing a gender booklet to be known as `Women and Men in Namibia'. So far, relevant gender issues have been identified and their respective indicators and data sources compiled into a draft form. The aim of the two-day national workshop is to discuss the final draft in order to incorporate suggestions and recommendations before the booklet is finally published. The booklet will consist of various chapters based on the major groupings of the gender issues which were identified, namely population, work, education, health, law and order, resources and decision making. Studying the available statistics, it becomes apparent that even though there are more women than men in Namibia, men are more advantaged in terms of job opportunities. For example, statistics on women in crime prevention indicate that last year the Namibian Police employed a total of 2 310 officers of which only 344 were women and the Ministry of Justice employed 141 legal employees of which 45 were women. In Government, there were 241 senior positions until recently of which 39 were occupied by women and 202 by men.

However, statistics on the prison population show that there are more male than female criminals in Namibia. In December 1993 there were 2 833 prisoners, 112 women and 2 721 men. Last year, there were 450 juveniles in prison, all male.

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