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 entrepreneur Hilda Basson-Namundjebo, a leader in the field of communications in Namibia.
Check out Hilda’s interview with UNIC Windhoek! Read along as she emphasises the importance of women’s empowerment and inspires women to be themselves and to ‘be amazing at it’.
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
I was born and bred in Windhoek. My mother is alive and her name is Lena, my dad passed when I was little, but I remember him like he was here yesterday. I am one of 8 siblings, of whom two have passed on. I am happily married to Phillip Namundjebo, and I am the proud mother of 4 boys, which include two biological sons and two sons who I had the privilege of bringing up.
I studied television production and engineering in Germany, worked in communities for a while, and later studied public relations and business. Also, I was privileged to complete a program with Duke University Corporate Education (CE) on Leading Africa: High Performance Boards. I run a number of businesses including Oxygen Communications, The Patriot Namibia (a weekly newspaper) and have shareholdings in key sectors such as property, tourism and financial services.
2. What challenges have you come across, if any, because of your gender throughout your career?
I have always had to prove myself more than other people because of the colour of my skin, before Independence, and most certainly as a woman. Added to that, I am a small built woman. So I made use of the challenge and worked hard all my life. I make sure I am well prepared, well studied and present in the moment. I read books beyond my immediate gifting and talents so I am able to view the world holistically.
3. What are your thoughts on women’s empowerment, and why it is important?
Women’s empowerment is critical because on the simple basis of mathematics; [a person is not] serious about progress and development if [he or she is] prepared to ignore what 52% of [the] population can bring to the table. Add to that women’s innate ability to be inclusive and caring, we are a critical factor to enhance institutional and national competitiveness. For the girl child in school, it is our responsibility to remove barriers to enable them to excel.
4. How can the communications and advertising industry help in promoting and achieving gender equality?
Giving women more voice. Whether as leaders whose opinions are sought [out] as thought leaders [or as] influencers as people who have a lot of access to people on the ground.
Also, the way we profile women is important. The outdated notions of advertising where a woman in a bikini is used to sell a car is still beyond me. How on Earth [are those things] even related? And of course, creating space for women to own equity in those sectors.
Certainly, communications people set the agenda to a large extent. So women need to position themselves, yes themselves, and take leadership. Also women need to take themselves seriously and stop playing for the audience. Just do you and be amazing at it. And, make smart decisions that will outlive you so you can leave a legacy.
5. What is your advice to young girls following their dreams?
“Stay hungry, stay foolish”, in the words of the late Steve Jobs.
6. What is your motto in life?
I don’t have a motto really but the key fundamental about my life is that I love Jesus, and He inspires me to be so much more (not arrogantly) every day.