All posts by sisternamibia

The GIMAC Award, for real?

Namibia receiving the 2017 Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) Award placed the spotlight on women’s position in our post-independence dispensation. The award allowed us to interrogate not only women’s position in the political sphere, but also where we are socially and economically. GIMAC aims to create a space for civil society to monitor the implementation of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA), which was adopted by AU heads of state and government in 2004.

When accepting the award, President Hage Geingob praised the ruling Swapo Party for implementing the 50/50 zebra style party lists, giving the party all the credit. It is important to note however, that all the credit must go to the Namibian Women’s Manifesto Network, which was a coalition of civil society organisations (CSO) led by Sister Namibia, under the leadership of Liz Frank and Elizabeth Khaxas at the time. The network launched the 50/50 campaign in 1999, which resulted in an advocacy campaign of six years, providing a platform for thousands of Namibian women to demand the equal representation of women in politics. The 50/50 Campaign became a model for women’s political empowerment across the globe.

It was thus notable that Sister Namibia, amongst many other women’s organisations, was not one of the CSOs that received recognition at the event. Not only is it a women-run CSO, it has done groundbreaking work in the areas of gender, and the empowerment of women and girls. The GIMAC award was given in recognition of the progress Namibia made in promoting gender equality, the empowerment of women, and in particular promoting women’s representation in key decision-making positions. According to the Legal Assistance Centre’s (LAC) Gender Analysis Report 2017, women constitute 41,7% of the National Assembly, 23,8% of the National Council, 16% of the regional councils, and 48% of local councilors. Women also serve in the Prime Minister, deputy prime minister, Chairperson of the National Council, and speaker of the National Assembly positions. In terms of the number of women in parliament, Namibia is doing very well with a ranking of 12th in the world. This, after we were ranked 29th in 2007.

The next obvious question is, has an increase in women at political level translated into the improvement of women’s position socially and economically?
The SDGEA not only foregrounds women’s participation in politics, but also women’s human rights, health, safety, socio-economic rights, education, and economic empowerment. According to the Demographic and Health Survey of 2013, more than one-third of women and girls who engaged in agricultural work received no payment for it. In 2016, unemployment among women youths was 49%, compared to 38% for men. Women remain the poorest of the poor. According to the Gender Analysis report, women are “less likely to be employed and, even when employed, earn less than men on average in most sectors.”

The country’s social protection system is a pivotally important lifeline for women, especially since they remain society’s main caregivers. It is important that government continues to improve it so it better serves women. The Gender Analysis report quotes a study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which notes that the lack of support for the unemployed leaves women more vulnerable because they remain unemployed longer than men. The ILO further notes that maternity benefits, along with benefits for sickness and employment injury, are available only to those in formal employment. This excludes the thousands of women who work in the informal economy. The Namibian newspaper recently reported that women represent 70% of the informal economy, and that this sector is responsible for about 40% of employment created in the country.
“Employment in the informal economy also does not encompass contracts for most employees, with the majority working extreme hours between 9 and 13 hours a day. Moreover, only 40% of those in the informal sector have access to sick leave benefits, while less than 30% have access to annual leave,” the article reads.

The 2011 census found that 46% of rural households were headed by women, yet the National Rural Development Policy does not specifically address the needs of women, although it “recognises that high levels of poverty are most extreme among vulnerable groups, such as female and youth-headed households.”

According to the 2013 Baseline Report on Human Rights, female respondents were slightly more likely than male respondents to say that their access to sanitation had gotten worse.

High rates of teenage pregnancies, domestic and sexual violence against women and girls, the list can go on in relation to the lack of bodily autonomy suffered by this country’s women. In fact, the list that highlights challenges faced by Namibia’s women is long. Some will say that we are better off than women of many other countries, hence the GIMAC Award. This is true, but comparing ourselves to countries that are worse off than us all the time can result in complacency, and failure to interrogate the merits of the recognition, or award we received. Do we deserve the award? Yes, we do because we are part of a continent that performs dismally in regard to respecting, protecting and promoting the overall well-being of its women and girls.

A few years ago I was asked what it is like to be a Namibian feminist woman. I said I consider myself blessed to be a feminist in a country that has committed itself to gender equality at policy level. Most African governments do not even bother with developing policies that could lead to the betterment of women and girls’ position in society. Using the African Union, United Nations and other international instruments as guiding lights, we have a policy and legal framework that reads like Namibia would be an ideal country for women and girls when achieved.

However, appointing or electing women in political and corporate leadership positions certainly is not the best way to achieve this. We tend to forget that women themselves can be partriarchal, because that is the way we are all raised. Most women in power are pawns of patriarchy, they think no different than the man sitting next to them.

In 2016 a motion to provide sanitary pads to disadvantaged schoolgirls for free, was tabled by a man, DTA leader McHenry Venaani. The deputy speaker said she is embarrassed to discuss menstruation in parliament. The deputy minister of gender equality and child welfare also tried to silence the debate by claiming that the ministry does have programmes that provide sanitary pads. How serious is this project if it is such an unknown fact? How is the presence of these ladies in parliament a plus for women and girls?

Effectively implementing the wide range of relevant policies and laws we have is the best way to go about it. In his acceptance speech President Geingob said, “In Namibia, gender equality is not a slogan. We breathe it, speak it, and live it.” This unfortunately is not factual, in Namibia we write about gender equality and appoint women in what is regarded as key positions, but these are mere cosmetic changes.

Dismantling patriarchy requires a commitment to challenging it all levels and it includes adapting what we teach in schools, what we publish in and broadcast on mainstream media, providing gender training to policy-makers, and supporting civil society efforts that focus on the empowerment of women and girls. It is also about developing policies with detailed actions in regard to the achievement of gender equality, so that government and stakeholders can be held accountable when targets are not met.

Let us enjoy the pride that comes with being recognised as a leader in the area of gender equality. But let it also be a reminder that we still have a long way to go before we can truly claim that our women and girls are equal to men in Namibia.

By Natasha Tibinyane

Engendering the SADC Industrialisation Strategy

The Namibian government is pulling all strings in preparations for the 38th SADC heads of state and government summit which is scheduled for August this year. We have been informed that the total expenditure of the summit will cost Namibians close to N$50 million.
Of interest is the summit theme: “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. This is a relevant theme as SADC boasts with a vibrant youth dividend and it goes without saying that infrastructure development is important for the socio-economic growth of SADC member states.
During the last three years, the themes were: “Accelerating Industrialisation of SADC Economies (Botswana Summit), “Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital” (eSwatini Summit), and “Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains” (South Africa). All three themes focused on industrialisation. It can be noted that SADC is building a momentum towards industrialisation as this year’s theme is in line with that of previous years.
I browsed through the Labour Force Survey of a few SADC member states and paid attention to the labour force participation by sex and age. I also skimmed at employment by industry. I found the labour force participation of women and youth still lags behind significantly. In almost all the member states men continue to dominate in the labour force. If one looks at employment by industry, career selection in all SADC states is unequally distributed between men and women. Demonstrative is that men still predominantly work in mining and quarrying, manufacturing, and transportation while women are mostly employed in education, health and social work as well as the hotel and retail industries. These sectors are also characterised by a wage gap. The sectors that recruit men tend to offer better wages compared to sectors that recruit females. The only employment sector where the number of men and women is almost equal is the agriculture sector.
As SADC states are forging ahead towards industrialisation, caution needs to be taken not to perpetuate gender inequality. SADC issued two protocols, namely the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the SADC Protocol on Employment and Labour, compelling member states to be cognisant of gender issues in their development agendas. The integration of gender should be seen as a systematic progress that must be engaged on from the onset of any developmental agenda and should not be treated as an add-on.
Hence, our appeal to SADC heads of state and government ministers is to ensure that the promotion of gender equality is central to every SADC developmental agenda.

By Immaculate Mogotsi
Sister Namibia Board of Trustees Chairperson

Yes we can

At the United State of Women Summit of 2018 Michelle Obama made a statement that got me thinking.
She said; “So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we are still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up. Because for so many of us getting to the table was so hard and we’re just holding on, but now we have to take some risks for our girls. We have to be willing to lose a little bit of something. Just holding on to our seats on the table won’t be enough for our girls to be all that they need to be. This will be on us women, but men also have an important role to play in that.”
She also mentioned that she wants to understand how they (American women) had an opportunity to vote for the most qualified candidate (who just happened to be a woman) and they chose differently.
How is it that a woman can be as qualified or even more qualified than her male counterpart but because she is a woman, she will lose a position of head of state, or leadership? And of course the loss of Hillary Clinton was not as simple as choosing between a male and female president. Both their scandals and fraudulent stories were brought to public attention, however Hillary’s faults seemed to have counted against her whilst Trump’s seemed to have made no to little difference, because he still became president elect.
I once saw a picture of a group of African leaders signing an MoU with the UN and I asked the person who posted it, why there were only men in the picture, and she answered that it was the head of states for Africa. And I responded with “Oh”.
But here is the thing, after I had evaluated my answer, I was saddened that I had programmed myself to accept that an African President would traditionally be a man. I was upset that there were only men in the picture, but when I heard that they were presidents I let my guard down. I made it okay not to be upset enough to have a female president. And that right there is where the danger lies.
When Michelle was talking, a woman yelled for her to run for president. And she mentioned that’s where the problem lied. That it would not make a difference if she ran because until we change our mind-sets that a woman can run, most women will change their minds before the voting polls.
Until we understand “Yes we can”, we will not support our fellow women leaders.
We allow men to fail-up. This means despite their patriarchal insults, besides their blatant disrespect for women, or rights of people, despite their corruption allegations, and despite them being accused of rape or harassment they still ascend to the top (fail-up). But we do not accord women the same opportunities.
This is what we do; we say no she will fail so let’s rather give the seat to a man, but even if he fails it’s okay, because he is allowed to.
We all have the potential to greatly fail or to greatly succeed. But we only mostly allow men to fail and succeed (or just fail).
We have yet to break barriers, but these barriers are not physical or legislative, they are, however mental.
So I conducted a small survey to check out the popularity of a woman actually running for presidency in Namibia.
I chose presidency as a measurement, because it’s the highest level of leadership, but more than that it’s the level upon which we are sceptical if a woman can run.
We’ve initially decided that women can be teachers, they can be engineers, CEO’s, but god forbid we make one president.
Let’s have a look at some of the negative responses.
The question was: Do Namibians (especially women) believe a female can run for president?
One harsh one was, “keep running” (meaning run away).
And majority of them were that women are too emotional. Oh but there was an upside to this one, women are emotional but as long as the candidate is mature it was said to be okay, because she will keep her emotions intact. So hey, there’s that, (get your emotions checked women!).
Others were. Wait for 2030 and we are not ready yet.
Which brings us to; is there something that men have done over the ages to get “ready” for leadership roles?
And did the women even begin that process yet?
Or we just leave them to their own demise?
I doubt there is a process to “get ready”. If there isn’t one for men, there shouldn’t be an expectation of such for women.
Among others one interesting statement we got is “We live in a society where women are seen as secondary citizens…and hence they can’t assume power of leadership, and definitely not presidential power.”
Which brings me back to something else Michelle Obama said.
“We are still at that stage where we’re trying to figure out what it means to be women. And you know sorry, but in light of this last election (Trump’s winning), I’m concerned about us as women. About how we think of ourselves and what we think of each other and what’s going on. I think more about what is going on in our heads were we let that happen. So I do wonder what young girls are dreaming about, if we’re still there. When the most qualified person running was a woman and look what we did instead. And that says something about where we are. Because if we as women are still suspicious of one other, if we still have this crazy bar for each other that we don’t have for men, if we’re still doing that today, if we’re not comfortable with the notion that a woman could be our president, compared to what? It is frustrating to see a lot of men blow it and win.”
Hilary Clinton’s loss was a major highlight for how women view other women, but besides that this piece does not argue that women fill presidential posts on the basis of being women, but that being a woman should not be a disqualifier.
Leadership is expectant of certain traits, character and skill. Leaders need to embody capacity, trust, skill, qualification and merit among others (which are qualities that women too possess).
There is an underlying culture among women to distrust other women, this can be linked to learned patriarchal behaviour or experiences of women with each other. This however should not deter us from standing behind each other. Supporting each other into the future is important in showing our young girls the power and potential of what can happen when women stand behind each other, what happens when we stand on shoulders of giants. Should we then as girls not start dreaming of LRC leaderships, heads of debate teams, local church group heads, council members, ministers and presidents?
In Namibia our voting electoral is made up of 53 percent of women, and as emerging women leaders the trust of those women need to be won. Winning the trust takes a lot of work in reprogramming the mind and removing the unfair subjective lens.
Women need to believe that they are all capable, all hardworking and all deserving of everything and anything they pursue, even running for president.
Until especially women can believe that “Yes we can”, we still have a lot of work to do.

by Elsarien Katiti

Bleeding from the vagina

Let me paint a picture.
Two people are seated from across the room debating about the importance of providing free pads to girls in school.
One is defending it the other is so uncomfortable to even hear the word menstruation.
It’s been ten minutes and in that short time, across the country. Over a hundred school girls over bled on their school skirts.
So they are seated in classrooms with bloody skirts. Shy to ask permission to leave the class bloodied.
So they are praying for the class period to be over, to go home or run to the bathroom.
But after that class there is another class coming in, and these girls still have to wait for their whole class to leave before they can get up.
Whatever clothe they were using is fully soaked and just because her skirt is bloody doesn’t mean the blood will stop flowing soon. Even if they go to the toilet or home, blood will still be flowing down their legs.
The blood does not stop flowing!
It doesn’t matter whether you are uncomfortable with the term ‘menstruation’ or ‘bleeding from the vagina’, the reality is thousands of girls do not have hygienic, medically approved menstrual products to use.
So to all of us, let us stop being comfortable and using politically correct terminology and get up and do something about it.
Let’s fight for the provision of free pads to girls in Namibia!
We can make this happen.
Let us support initiatives that provide pads to girls (like the SisterPads)

Until we have girls who’s skirts are blood stained because they have nothing to use, we can’t not fight, we can’t get comfortable.
The blood does not stop flowing.
By Elsarien Katiti

Female Presidency in Namibia: Analyzing the Narrative

It is quite evident that the women presidency fever has emerged and now has a tight grip over the political scene in South Africa, and one can also observe that majority of the ANC’s structures are also heeding to the call. It wouldn’t be that farfetched to say that one can hear a mumble between certain individuals in Swapo, and certain publications trying to develop the exact narrative. However within Swapo, the culture of silence and fear for prejudice holds back the views of those that believe in the cause.
One needs to understand that within many political organizations, women had to fight tooth and nail against the male dominated structures enable to break ranks. Namibia has seen the rise of women in key positions and leaders of government business. It is also observable that Namibia possesses a caliber of women that can lead the country; however the sphere of full bright politics always taken its toll. In the Namibian context, an error made by the establishment was to hire somewhat capable executives to take up presidential advisory roles; the thought was admirable however these executives do not possess the skills to deal with full bright politics. We can define full bright politics, as the process where different political elements such as factionalism, contemporary issues and certain acts determine the political landscape. Why is this analogy important? It plays into the notion that one can’t simply, but must look for individuals that pass through the eye of the needle criteria.

The Narrative
The existing narrative is that women must come and fix what men have broken. In times of need many look to women leaders to come in as unifying candidates to come and unite the political organization and the country. a reality that we must accept in the Namibian context is that the country is divided on whether President Dr.Hage Geingob is delivering and whether he should get a second term, this scenario is accommodating the call for a woman to take over the reins at next congress. The Swapo party women’s league has also made it clear that they will back any female candidate for presidency; this notion by the women’s league is highly flawed. It might come to the point where any female candidate avails herself; however that candidate might not be well placed for presidency. The women’s league needs to focus on ensuring that the crème de la crème of available women leaders get into positions. The women’s league might justify their position by playing the “Women have been marginalized” card. We recognize that women have had their disadvantage share of oppression and unfair inclusion. However this argument still doesn’t justify the need for “any” kind of female leadership. Those that back the narrative of women’s leadership, make it difficult for themselves as they complicate the process of sensitizing the masses.
In RSA, it is easy for one to support Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her verge to cling the hot seat, because she speaks out on issues, she let’s known her belief and perspective on many contemporary political issues. One might not always agree with her views, but the fact that she allows one the opportunity to analyze it plays in her favor. On the other hand in Namibia, it becomes very difficult for one to rely on existing women leaders in the establishment, as they are rather num on issues that require their perspective.
It is easy for one to say that they are maneuvering strategically, however the political dynamics have changed as more conscientious and academically oriented youth challenge the establishment. The harm of this perceived “maneuvering strategically” is that only when it is time to tally up to the masses, is when we get to hear the views of these leaders, furthermore one can also analyze that one can’t then take them seriously because at this stage their views are very much systematic and agenda driven.
Mitigating the political sphere
Women leaders in Namibia and around the world owe it to themselves to remain defiant and resist being used in the name of “it is time for female presidency’. For us as Namibians to start taking grip of the possibility of Women Presidency, we need start hearing independent views and perspectives of women leaders in and out of the establishment; it sets the platform for much needed growth of women within the country. When one observes at how revolutionaries embark on change and sensitization, the simple answer is that they let their perspective be known, an engage all forms of criticism on it. Independent perspective development allows one the opportunity to be critical on an intellectual level, and it gives the gallant masses the platform to engage purposefully, this is the kind of growth that the women presidency narrative needs.
It would be easy for die-hard feminists and Feminist radical sympathizers to allude that this opinion piece diminishes the image of women and further intelligently marginalizes them, however from an intellect perspective, this opinion piece looks at factors that influence and hamper the growth of women leadership, and how women can spearhead their own growth in a just and independent manner.

By Dylan Mukoroli
Managing partner at Social Chapter Consulting

Why Men Grope Women Culture, sex, and projective identification explain groping.

This was a repost on groping and public harassment of women. After a Fox Sports reporter Maria Fernanda Mora was groped by a man on live television, during an interview.
We wanted to understand why this still happens.
This post is not meant to justify harassment against women, but to look at a psychological reason of why it happens.

Here are three reasons men grope women.

The first is cultural conformity. By culture, I mean the implicit and explicit rules of conduct that will generate approval and avoid disapproval. When a man gropes (or otherwise assaults or harasses) a woman for cultural reasons, it means that the reward sought is not so much the physical contact with the woman but the approval of others for doing so.
A cultural explanation would also include the relevance to the man of inducing the woman not to dress or behave in certain ways. News stories of men in other countries attacking women in public for wearing Western garb may fit this model.
In many parts of America, cultural rules strengthen the patriarchy and the privileges of maleness by defining men as free agents and women as property. Hitting on women may be rewarded by cheers from other men. As other men have reported, I’ve never heard anything in a locker room (or in a poker game) like Trump’s comments. Still, to the extent that Trump’s behavior with and about women is reinforced not only by the women and their bodies but by giggling admiration from other men, it’s cultural.
Groping and ogling women garners sexual reinforcers in the form of touching and seeing things that are pleasurable in a sexual way. This would seem to apply mainly to teenaged boys, who presumably are more strongly potentiated to be reinforced by sexual stimuli than adults are, and who presumably are not as used to seeing and touching women as adults are.
For many men, the sexual reinforcement obtained by touching or looking is offset by the effect on the woman; for them, causing the woman discomfort is aversive. In consensual sex and in pornography, there is either no aversive effect on the woman or no apparent aversive effect. Information that links pornography to sex trafficking or pathological reasons for the woman’s engagement can ruin pornography for many men.
When the man is very wealthy or very charismatic, women may pretend not to be bothered by the groping in exchange for the chance at a relationship or so as not to disadvantage themselves socially or economically. And some women in some circumstances may enjoy groping or ogling by strangers for reasons not relevant here, except to say that these women require men to distinguish them from most women, a relatively easy distinction to make for men who find women’s discomfort aversive.
The main reason men grope women, though, is projective identification. Projective identification is a defense mechanism: It works to preserve beliefs about a person’s narrative and definition of self by disowning aspects of the self that don’t fit that narrative or definition.
In projective identification, you get other people to embody embarrassing aspects of the self so you can then define yourself in counterpoint to the disowned aspects. In projection, you merely imagine that others are like you claim not to be; in projective identification, you act in a way that actually gets them to be what you claim not to be. For example, a woman who cannot bear to think of herself as aggressive drives slow in the left lane and marvels at how angry other drivers tend to be as they honk and scream at her. In comparison with the people she sees, she has indeed become someone with remarkably little anger. A man who is terrified of being ordinary insists that every encounter with him be intimate, startling, and emotionally courageous; others react with exhaustion and retreat to mundane pleasures like small talk and watching TV. In comparison with them, he has indeed become an extraordinary person.
Many men are raised to detest their own dependence, passivity, and vulnerability. This occurs not only through punishment of boys for being weak but also through excessive praise for their strength, agency, and toughness. The latter creates a situation where the boy being normally vulnerable or scared becomes a loss of face. Groping, ogling, and catcalling are often ways of inducing in women feelings of vulnerability, weakness, and fear. Compared to women scurrying away from a frightening man, the man seems to himself to be tough, strong, and courageous. Compared to a woman paralyzed or befuddled by being groped, the man seems to himself to be a master of the universe. Bullying works the same way.

Author: Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D.
Published on: Psychology Today
Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-our-way/201610/why-men-grope-women

Murderers, all of us

Are we becoming desensitised to brutality? Moreover to murder?
A story still lingers in my head.
Quite recently, a son murdered his mother, because she plead with him not to hit his girlfriend.
Now his girlfriend ran and hid after he had assaulted her, but eventually went home because the baby was crying most night.
According the reports he didn’t continue hitting her, in fact he put ointment on her wounds.
The dual side of an abuser, a monster and very caring too.
He locked the doors and they stayed in there all night.
In the morning his mother comes to plead with him about beating up his girlfriend who is also the mother of his 11 month old baby.
He was said to have stormed out and started hacking her with a panga (machete).
His girlfriend, when he opened the door ran away.
Now I want to redirect the story to his girlfriend.
Upon the slightest opportunity, she ran for her life.
So for an entire night, she must have been violently terrified to even be in the same room as this man.
Could she see the murder weapon in her sight? Was she careful to not say the wrong thing or move the wrong way or she would get chopped?
Think of the horror she endured with this man, not only on this fateful night, but every night when he was angry at her for some perceived wrong.
Imagine how many women are kept hostage every night by their abusers.
How many stories have we heard of women murdered?
What is our reaction now? Anger? Pity?
Here is the thing though, we have become desensitised.
Murder in Namibia, is just part of the day.
Doesn’t shock us anymore.

We are not angry enough to make a difference.
We are more curious in the details of the murder, than we are in justice for the murdered.

Which brings me to the point of accusation.
We, all of us have become accessories in the killing of these women.
We are on-looking murderers.
Because none of us cry no more.
It’s like we are silently condoning crime.
Silence, condones.
I don’t care what you say in whispers or the prayers you send upwards for victims.
But your silence, our silence has made us passive murderers, we are contributing to the killing of these women.
So for every woman that dies… I declare that her blood just as much lies in your hands as it does in the murderers hands.
Cause we don’t do enough.
We don’t cry enough.
We aren’t angry enough.
We don’t strike enough.
We don’t boycott enough.
We don’t demand for justice enough.
We don’t challenge the status quo enough.
We don’t provide enough counselling for angry men.
We don’t provide enough safe havens for abused women.
We haven’t done enough to safe the next victim.
We wait like hungry vultures for the next corpse.

We just don’t walk in their shoes enough to understand, to understand their fears.
Is this who we’ve become?
Murderers, all of us.

By Elsarien Katiti

A few cents to Freedom

Financing yourself or your lifestyle after leaving an abusive relationship in which you were financially dependent on the abuser is key to not repeat g the cycle of abuse.
I grew up with a story at the back of my mind. This story shaped from a young age how I would view relationships with the opposite sex and most importantly choosing not to ever be in an abusive relationship.
This story was of a women who would take her two little daughters in the middle of the night and play hide and seek, she would tell them not to make a noise and hide behind various objects so they could not be found by the drunken boyfriend and get beaten up.
This is a story of how when she had a better income job, she would be asked (demanded to leave), because she “thought she was better than him”.
A story of being beaten and stabbed to almost bleeding out. Where fist fights were a regular thing in this “loving” relationship.
What stuck with me most about this story was its end. The women in the end, out of fear of her daughters’ lives, lied to her boyfriend that she was visiting an aunt for only a weekend and packed a bag (which he decided on the specifics of what should be packed), which she however secretly added a few more items to and left everything she owned (the shack they stayed in was hers, even most household items inside) and never returned.
After all the abuse she had endured for years, one day she had the courage to run and not look back.
This women was my mother, and I was one of the little girls she had to run with.
Now of course life after that wasn’t particularly easy for her, she wasn’t educated or had a job and she had to stay with her brother for a while, until eventually she pulled her life together.
My mother is the reason why I had to break the cycle of uneducation, and dependency.
Knowing what she went through and seeing what other women go through because they become economically dependent on their partners gave me an idea on how these women can leave and still survive.
Every victim of abuse needs a support system, most times that’s family and friends, but some of these women have been isolated from their support systems by their manipulative partners and when they need support there is no one they are close to that can help, because everyone else is estranged to them by then.
But as being part of a society, every victim should have someone or organisation to count on for rehabilitation and assistance.
Recently having attended the Financial Literacy’s event on Investing, got me thinking on a subject of “Saving your way out of an abusive relationship”.
The very first question that was asked was “Why Invest/Save?” And answers ranged from “Buying a house/car to creating wealth and saving for an education”, but after attending the whole talk afterwards I asked if they had trustfunds or group savings for women who wanted to leave an abusive relationship. Of course no such thing exists, this is a country where people won’t report a fight or intervene because “it’s a personal/private affair of a couple”.
It got me thinking about having an exit plan and being strategic in the next phase of your life. I have heard countless stories of women feeling disempowered to stay because “who will pay for her rent/provide for a roof over her and the children’s heads, who will pay for school fees, who will buy clothes or who will feed them” if they leave. I’ve heard “even if he beats her, at least he takes care of her”.
They’re pyochologically bullied to stay, because they see no way out.
Here is the thing, one could say, why doesn’t the women go to school or get a job (if she can), and those are good ideas but her acquiring a job would raise questions as to why she feels the need to contribute financially after all this time and after he already supplies for every other need (and might just cause further abuse), so every reduced blow to her body is a bonus chip, and we don’t want her being further victimised. So what can she do?
Financial dependency has been one of the key factors in GBV and Partner violence in Namibia.
Being economically independent empowers women to walk away much more easily from abusive relationships that they would have otherwise prolonged in fear of not knowing how to sustain themselves afterwards.
Hence women empowerment cannot be spoken about in isolation of economic development.
Can these women then not start a trustfund or a stokvel where they can put in small sums of money that will eventually help them stand on their feet when it’s time to flee?
Is the survival of post-abuse perhaps dependant on gradually saving your way out of these relationships.
Organisations and well wishers can also contribute to these savings group so that the burden can be lightened on the victims of our society.
Could the solution be planning for the escape with a few pennies at a time?
Could a few cents contribute towards freedom from being abused?
By Elsarien Katiti