Every child needs support, not only with food, healthcare and shelter, but in order to grow up as self-led and stable individuals, with strong values.
In this vein, Star for Life held its annual girls’ seminar on 27 September at the University of Namibia (Unam) under the theme ‘Dream it… be it… it’s your time to shine’.
The seminar was aimed at empowering the girl child in terms of sexual reproduction health rights (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV).
It was also a celebration of the power of the girl child.
At the seminar, high school girls pitched the different business ideas they have been developing during school club sessions.
Additionally, the focus was on expanding their knowledge of entrepreneurship and for them to be inspired by successful female entrepreneurs.
Education ministry permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp said Namibia has the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV) in the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC), although it is difficult to get comprehensive data on the phenomenon. GBV is a signi?cant public health problem, with numerous cases of violence between intimate partners ending with murder, and sometimes the suicide of the abuser.
“Such murders sometimes arise from jealousy or revenge, or the refusal on the part of the abuser to accept the end of a sexual relationship. Violence not only scars the survivor for life, but it also hinders economic development and has long-term health e?ects,” Steenkamp said.
She added that abused children are more likely to become violent adults, thus transmitting violence from one generation to the next.
She said 7.5% of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced sexual violence, compared to 4.8% of 20- to 24-year-olds, while 19% of teenage girls aged 15 to 19 have started having children.
Steenkamp said there is a need to improve the response to cases of violence against children and women, as well as a need to strengthen the prevention and management of violence in and through schools.
She concluded by saying that people should all contribute in whatever way possible, in terms of promoting a society in which sexual and reproductive rights are recognised and valued.
This would ensure equitable and accessible sexual and reproductive health services for all young girls in Namibians.
Natalia Haufiku, one of the girls that attended the seminar, said it was great to be surrounded by young individuals that value and strive to fight for what is right, and help those struggling with low self-esteem.
Star for Life is a non-profit organisation based in Namibia, South Africa and Sweden, which focuses on school-based life skills.
It is a HIV/Aids prevention programme that provides young people with information that will motivate them to make informed decisions.