Each Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments. This Wednesday, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Stacey Pinto, a Lecturer at the University of Namibia (UNAM) who also works at the British Commission and is a published author.
Read along as Stacey discusses her career, the challenges she has faced and how it is important for people to work together to take action in order to achieve women’s empowerment.
1.) Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
My name is Stacey Pinto (née Susa). I am a 29 year old woman who loves God and life, and I am passionate about investing time and effort into social issues that help change lives. I am a firm believer in people’s potential to be the change, no matter where life places them.
In terms of qualifications, I hold a B.Juris degree and LLB degree from the University of Namibia. I also hold a Masters degree in International Trade Law and currently doing my PhD as well. I currently work at University of Namibia as well as serve at British Commission for trade and investment related issues.
Outside my professional career, I am a published author and last year featured in a best-selling compilation book called 20 Beautiful Women: Africa Edition. I am in the TedX alumni and mentor young adults as well.
2.) What challenges have you come across, if any, because of your gender throughout your career?
I tend to think differently about challenges and maybe this is because to me, nothing is insurmountable. I have had quite a few challenges along the way, some maybe specific to my gender but mostly because of different complexes in the work place that do not make it easy for a young entrants trying to make a mark.
As for those specific to my gender, I think the work place can be, and I say that because in some spheres the perception is slowly changing, not receptive to young female professionals, especially so if new on the market.
After I completed my Masters degree, I had high hopes and was very enthusiastic about contributing to the trade and investment field and innocent me back then thought the world would just open up to me and embrace me.
I was wrong because nobody was willing to take a chance. I eventually started off as an intern (as qualified as I was), and I did this because I came to the reality that I had to start somewhere and make my mark wherever I started. I did exactly that and after lots of hard work and applying myself, things slowly started to shape up. Being a strong Christian helped me hold on because I knew that no matter where I found myself God would still use me.
3.) What are your thoughts on women’s empowerment, and why it is important?
Women’s empowerment has to move from being a word that is often quoted to make ones speech more comforting or all-embracing to being actionable. It is time it was done and not just quoted and discussed with no substantial implementation.
I think we have spoken and deliberated on it way too long. By now we have about exhausted the avenues of [speaking about] empowering women, let’s put it to work. The beginning is to change perceptions. If we all understood that empowerment happens at all levels and not only up to a select few, the change would be quicker. I am not in government per se, but that doesn’t stop me from meeting young women whose lives I can start to impact by simply believing in them and help show them that they can be the change. That woman will touch someone else and it goes on.
Of course empowerment happens at different levels and so [in terms of] the levels that can empower [women such as through] improving access to finances, infrastructure, law etc. there is more to be done. For example, enacting a domestic violence law is one thing but we need to ensure that women have access to what the law gives them, [for example] access to law centers that can give advice, a police force that is open to enforcing such a law and general information regarding what is legally their right.
I recently undertook accompanying second year law students on a mandatory customary law trip for research purposes. Part of the research includes access to law questions which seek to find out how much about the law people in traditional set ups know. It is sad to say that the numbers that are fully aware are not promising and even if they do know, what they know is insufficient for them to use for their benefit. And so in this regard, we can do more to educate and ensure every Namibian has access to law.
4.) How can the legal profession promote gender equality?
By educating and getting involved. The legal profession can do more to move away from the ordinary day to day court or office work and actually get involved in communities. Law has and continues to be an esteemed career and the influence it can have is far beyond the court room. We as lawyers, be it individually or collective can start getting involved in social issues and put the law to work.
It can be something as small as educating the domestic workers in our homes and offices who in turn educate others and it goes on. There is power in numbers and even though sad, the large populous lies in informal employment. We get the populous educated about pertinent issues that affect them, then we have a better chance of improving gender equality.
5.) Do you think the law in Namibia promotes gender-justice?
The law does. The implementation of the law be it by institutions or individuals leaves much to be desired.
6.) What is your advice to girls following their dreams?
Your mind can conceive something simply because you can do it. If you could never think or dream it, it means you would never think of achieving it because you wouldn’t even know it existed.
1. Don’t dream small because whatever you dream is achievable.
2. After dreaming, write it down and start mapping out a plan to achieve it.
3. Get help and advice, you are not the first to walk that road and seeking help will help you get there with less mistakes.
7.) What is your motto in life?
Proverbs 18:16- your gift will create room for you and bring you before kings.