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Namibia: Violence May Undermine Progress on MDGs

Windhoek — Gender Based Violence (GBV) is one of the greatest threats to achieving some of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, the Director of Gender Equality and International Affairs in the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Victor Shipoh, said.

Shipoh, in an interview with New Era last week, said despite challenges on the ground, the country would meet some of the MDGs based on current indicators. The MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality rates and improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, as well as ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. Citing child mortality and maternal health, which the government is failing to effectively address, Shipoh stressed that although GBV is not specifically mentioned as an MDG target, it is a serious problem since it impacts the attainment of some MDGs directly.

Shipoh also expressed concern over the alarming media reports on GBV, citing the sad story of 17-year-old Johanna Nantapo, who was brutally murdered about two weeks ago while on her to school by an assailant completely unknown to her in an seemingly random act of senseless violence. Shipoh said even if the country achieves gender equality, which is one of the MDplant engineeringG targets, violence against women and children may overshadow that achievement. "We cannot say that we will achieve goal number three if women are being killed, raped and treated in hospitals, because of injuries resulting from gender-based violence. Are we saying that if we achieve 50/50 representation of men and women in parliament and women are being killed that we have achieved goal number three?" Shipoh asked.

To reverse the negative status quo in respect of violence in our society, Shipoh is of the view that all members if society should play a part. Education on the respect of human dignity is vital, Shipoh noted. "Society should not condone or tolerate people who are abusing or killing," Shipoh remarked, adding that government alone will not address the problem.

The Swapo Party extraordinary congress in June resolved that as of August 26, the 50/50 gender representation amendments would come into effect throughout all party structures and organs. The move has been well received throughout the country and abroad.

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