MISA Namibia and coalition of NGOs work with Namibian youth to tackle gender based violence

MISA Namibia and coalition of NGOs work with Namibian youth to tackle gender based violence

Last year, MISA Namibia joined forces with like-minded Namibian NGOs to raise awareness about gender-based violence.  Here, MISA Namibia Director, Natasha Tibinyane, tells us about the activities the coalition conducted last year, what they have already done this year and other plans for 2014.

Monday, 25 November 2013 marked the beginning of the annual international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign in Windhoek, Namibia. The campaign’s aim was to raise awareness on the scourge of gender-based violence; what the causes or contributing factors are; and to recommend sustainable solutions.

In Namibia, we expanded the campaign to include the call for an end to violence against children too. This was done due to the fact that the country’s children, just like its women, continue to suffer the brunt of violent acts perpetrated, because they are the most vulnerable in our society. The campaign culminated on 10 December, which is International Human Rights Day.

Our 2013 theme was Step-up and take responsibility. Break the Silence! The theme was chosen because there is a desperate need for every citizen, regardless of their gender or age, to actively get involved, in any way, to eradicate violence against women and children in particular and achieve a violence-free Namibia for all.

There were two key messages for the 2013 campaign:

1.     For Namibian media and artists to recognise their power to influence and to use this power constructively and responsibly. This key message is the result of a worrying trend among mainstream artists buying into the “thug and hoe” culture promoted by popular urban youth culture.

2.     For men to get actively involved in the fight against gender based violence and in the lives of their children. This key message was advocated by well-known Namibian men Dr. Kaire Mbuende, Dr. John Steytler, Isaak Hamata, Alfie Ndyenge and Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi.



November – December:

Flashmobs and a Call to Action at Katutura Shoprite, Wecke & Voigts and Woerman Hyper Mall.

03 December:

A Candlelight Silent Sit-in at the Windhoek Central Prison to call for the rehabilitation of prisoners in order for them not to return to society more troubled than when they entered. We also demonstrated our compassion for those incarcerated and their families. As a result of this the Coalition held a meeting with the psychologist and senior social workers of the Namibia Prison Service.

We agreed to consider ways to partner for a violence-free Namibia.

05 December:

Take Back the Night March from the home of Eleanor Diergaardt in
Jasmyn street, Khomasdal to Herero Mall in Katutura.

10 December:

A Zumba Family Fun Fundraiser for survivors of violence and the vulnerable.

Our Media Partners during the campaign were Democratic Media Holdings, One Africa TV and the NBC’s Good Morning Namibia. We are very grateful to them for their assistance and patience. A special thank you to Dani Booysen, Editor of the Republikein and Janet of GMN.

Think B4 You LOL Youth Media and Information Literacy Retreat:

Over the weekend of 15th to 17th of November 2013, MISA Namibia, Victims to Survivors and Sister Namibia facilitated a two-day media and information literacy workshop.  The aims were to:

– Develop baseline indicators of the youth’s perception of media messages;

– Raise awareness about different forms of media and their role a in democracy;

– Sensitise participants on how the promotion of violence, traditional gender roles and the sexual objectification of women and girls fuel gender based violence;

– Develop key messages for the 16 Day Campaign Against Gender Based Violence;

– Encouraging critical thinking about media messages;

– Establish a core group of young Namibians actively involved in lobbying the media and artists to produce content and work that promotes empowerment, gender equality and personal development for the greater good; and

– Provide a platform for interaction between mainstream media professionals, children and youth.

Thirty-five youths aged between 13 ans 26 were invited from the grassroots slam poetry entries, literature students, Namibia Red Cross Society volunteers, Uitani ChildLine Radio reporters, social exchange media group members and journalists from Energy FM and The Namibian youth paper.

The key messages the youths developed called on artists to be more responsible with their messaging, and for us all to bring an end to Gender based violence.

Our observations were that; our youths were advanced in their thinking and understanding of perceptions created by media. Very different gender views were aired; custom and traditions still shaped many of those; however the influence of media is evident too. Popular music with extreme gender stereotyping was analyzed and it brought about critical thinking in what our youths expose them to.

Building on this work in 2014

This year, we established a youth media action group with youth from the Think Before You LOL workshop. They will conceptualize and implement initiatives and activities to bring about and inspire critical thinking among their peers.

Orange Day Namibia Campaign Launch, March 2014
In July 2012 the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaimed every 25th of the month as Orange Day. Initiated and led by the UNiTE campaign’s Global Youth Network, worldwide activities implemented on this day by UN country offices and civil society organizations strive to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year, on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month.

In 2013, the UNiTE campaign focused its Orange Days on highlighting recommendations of the agreed conclusions of the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57), which took place in March 2013 on the theme of the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. Orange Day highlighted issues including safe schools, safe work places and cyber space as a safe space for women and girls.

Activities culminated in a call to ‘Orange the World in 16 Days’ from November 25 and throughout the 16 Days of Activism. The Call resulted in ‘orange activities’ in over 50 countries and over 76 million people being reached through social media.

This year represents a critical juncture for the future of development efforts to end violence against women and girls particularly in the light of 2015 as the target year for the current development framework (Millennium Development Goals) and the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. Therefore, this year it was a key moment to take stock of progress, assess gaps and challenges, and engage actively in advocacy that shapes future development frameworks and strategies that can address the issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls.

For more information contact:

Natasha Tibinyane, MISA Namibia National Director

Email: director@misanamibia.org

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.