In order to promote women’s empowerment and to generate awareness of the importance of gender equality, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments each Wednesday.
For this week’s #WCW #WednesdayCelebrateWomen, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Ndahafa Hapulile, an advocate for gender equality who received recognition as an Emerging Entrepreneur at the Namibian Business Hall of Fame induction.
Ndahafa is currently employed as an Assistant to the Secretary General of the SWAPO Party. Additionally, she is an elected board member of the National Youth Council (NYC) of Namibia, chairing the Programme Oversight Committee.
She says, “As a social entrepreneur, I act as a change agent in my community by coming up with innovative ideas to improve systems and invent new approaches, with the hope of creating solutions to change society for the better.”
Check out Ndahafa’s interview with UNIC Windhoek! Read along as she talks about the career challenges she has faced due to her gender. Similarly, see her views on gender equality.
1.) Have you come across any challenges in your field because of your gender?
In every field, there are challenges. However, one of the more notable challenges I have experienced is [dealing with] the stereotypes associated with femininity [specifically when being ‘ladylike’ or ‘looking girly’].
In my field, I have noticed that women who look feminine tend to be thought of as “less brainy”. Beauty is seen as a form of weakness and vulnerability. Many women tone down their femininity to look and act more masculine in order to fit in.
However, as an advocate for gender equality [with experience in the] mining environment as a Metallurgist in training, I am determined to fight these stereotypes and draw inspiration from women like Hon. Dr. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Rosalia Martins-Hausiku who maintained their ‘ladylikeness’ and still made wonderful strides in their respective fields.
2.) Why is it important for women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields?
In Namibia, we have more women than men. It is therefore short-sighted and self-limiting not to include women in the pool of possible scientists and engineers.
These sectors are dominated by men, as such, we need more diversity. With a more diverse workforce, scientific and technological solutions are likely to be better designed and more likely to represent all users, as women’s perspectives help guide the direction of scientific analysis and product design.
3.) How does youth empowerment promote gender equality?
Youth Empowerment promotes gender equality in the sense that young people learn from a young age to treat each other equally. Gender equality is not only about women, it’s about both sexes. Through youth empowerment, young people are more exposed to [the opposite sex], and learn to tolerate and respect each other.
Youth empowerment also increases women’s participation and involvement. This further increases the chances of young women occupying leadership roles in their communities.
4.) What are your thoughts on women’s empowerment?
We, as Namibians, are making wonderful strides, but we are not there yet. Even though the environment seems favourable for women, very few women rise up to the challenge.
We should not only demand for empowerment, we should invest in personal development, to ensure that we have the necessary requirements to do the job.
And for those of us that received opportunities, let us keep on learning and moving up the ladder to make space for the next girl child in line. Empowerment is both personal and collective!
5.) What is your advice to girls pursuing their dreams?
You are the key to whatever you want to be. Keep going! Remember diamonds are made under pressure.
6.) What is your motto in life?
Don’t curse the darkness, simply be light!