On Wednesday, 14 April, a women leaders’ dialogue on gender-based violence, HIV and inequalities was held at State House.
First Lady Monica Geingos, cabinet ministers, heads of UN agencies and all the extraordinary women from government, private sector and NGOs, were present at the event where they explored gender-based violence, HIV and inequality.
UNAIDS executive director and United Nations under-secretary-general Winnie Byanyima and her delegation were also in attendance.
Through many efforts, projects and action, Namibia has worked towards achieving gender equality and reducing HIV/Aids infections on the continent. For instance, since 2001, new HIV infections have been reduced by 56% and mother-to-child transmissions from 20% in 2001 to 4% by 2014.
Christine //Hoebes, who made the welcoming remarks at the event, said there are intensive efforts to ensure that new infections among young people are contained and that pregnant mothers are tested and have access to treatment.
“We are also simultaneously working to ensure that children navigate the path to adolescence and adulthood HIV-free and that they remain HIV-free as adults,” she said.
On women's empowerment and gender equality, there have been significant targets reached, such as an increase in the number of girls in primary and secondary school, and a boost in the share of women in the National Assembly to 46% in 2015.
However, there are still significant challenges, with widespread gender and sexual violence.
“I am however encouraged by the work of the different stakeholders in combatting this social ill,” she added.
Since the First Lady's appointment as UNAIDS special advocate for young women and adolescent girls in 2016 and through #BeFree Dialogues and #BreakFree Campaign, she has impacted the lives of over 120 000 young people in Namibia and internationally.
The #BeFree Dialogues and #BreakFree Campaign play a crucial role in linking youth to services, facilitating judgement-free and open dialogues and empowering young people to make informed decisions.
The Office of the First Lady was appreciated for the life-changing work they do in the fields of gender-based violence, inequality and youth development throughout the country.
“The theme for this year's International Women's Day was 'Choose to Challenge'. This was appropriate because women constantly have to challenge societal gender norms, expectations and limitations. They constantly have to challenge and prove that indeed they are qualified, competent and capable to be leaders and excel in their personal and professional lives.
“We know that the first step towards achieving the change we want see is dialogue, and today we are making that crucial first step,” she said.