The UN System in Namibia engaged with over 410 girls from Windhoek Technical School as part of ‘Prosperous Paths’, a programme that aims at empowering and educating Namibian girls. The girls were very supportive and excited to be part of the campaign, engaging in meaningful discussions regarding issues of gender inequality with the UN System staff.
Ms. Anthea Basson, the National Information Officer to Namibia, started by introducing the mandate of the United Nations and asked questions to evaluate the learners’ knowledge of the UN and its work in Namibia.
She then asked the learners the question, “What are the biggest challenges facing women and girls in Namibia, and how do we solve them? The girls impatiently awaited their turn to voice their concerns on issues affecting women and girls and they passionately shared their insight, and proposed solutions.
Throughout the debate and discussion with UNIC Windhoek the girls shared their wisdom on why the plight facing women and girls is the most critical issue of our time and what we can do about it. This debate set the stage for discussion of numerous concerning issues that affect 66% of the Namibian population who is 30 years and younger.
The girls mentioned rape, prostitution, the presence of a discouragement culture perpetuated by male teachers and a lack of support from various institutions. Cheers from the crowd could be heard after each student spoke, non-verbally depicting that these issues are things that affect many women and girls across Namibia.
After a presentation regarding the Sustainable Development Goal #5 which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, the floor was once again opened for the learners to voice their views on solutions to problems that Namibian women face.
Loud whispers could be heard as the girls brainstormed ideas with one another. From the hands selected, one student encouraged her classmates and said that girls should go for the jobs that have been gender-stereotyped reserved for men.
Another learner passionately told the group that men alone are not to blame for the suppression of women and she explained that women are to blame to an extent as well. Her reason being that, “Many women just sit and expect the jobs and opportunities to come to them without them working hard to acquire them” she said. Motivating the crowd, she left the girls with the message, “If you want it, go get it!”
The UN System in Namibia was commended for the insightful and engaging programme, and the students requested that more educational and empowering programmes be brought to the school. The UNIC team is very close to reaping the benefits of the Prosperous Paths, Leading in Vocation programme. Up to date over 2,000 girls has been reached and actively participated in this outreach programme.