Namibia prioritising Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)
"The parliament or legislature plays an important role in promoting sexual reproductive rights and the facts around it."
A number of delegates, including members of parliament (MP), government officials, staff, UN entities and Speakers of the children’s parliament attended the two-day capacity building workshop on July 9-10 in Otjiwarongo. The workshop was aimed at empowering and imparting lawmakers with the necessary knowledge to be able to come up with the solutions to pressing SRHR issues through legislation.
The workshop follows the launching of the 2nd phase Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum’s SRHR, HIV and AIDS Governance project early this year by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi. The project, funded by the Swedish Embassy at a cost of USD3.2 million, involves fourteen SADC member countries including Namibia that has continued to grapple with Sexual Reproductive Health Rights challenges with mostly women and girls at the receiving end.
"The targeted legislation would empower MPs to come up with better legislation, budgeting and representation as well as sensitize communities regarding sexual reproductive health issues" Hon Katjavivi stated.
The second phase is anchored on five key thematic areas that include sexual gender based violence and gender inequality, early and unintended pregnancy and safe abortions, commodity security and universal health coverage, comprehensive sexuality education and non-discrimination and protection of key populations.
Delivering presentations at the workshop were Eunice Ajambo: Economist Development Coordination Officer, UN Namibia, Loide Amkongo: Assistant Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Elizabeth Kakukuru: Gender Specialist, UN Women.
Eunice Ajambo shed light onto the Agenda 2030 of the SDGs and the AU’s Agenda 2063. The presentation included the 6 Mega Trends and Call for Sustainable Development, Linkages between Agendas 2030 and 2063, Multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration for the SDGs, the UNPAF, and the NDPs. She emphasized that the importance of SRHR were front and center in 4 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). And now also strongly enshrined in Target 6 of SDG 5 on Gender and Target 7 of SDG 3 on Health.
Amkongo tapped into the Overview of Global, Continental and Regional Policy and National Instruments on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights. In her presentation she explained the SADC SRHR Score Card as a high-level peer review accountability tool to track progress on implementation of the SADC Regional Strategy for SRHR 2019–2030 and highlighted the components of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as Sexual Health and wellbeing, cancers of the reproductive systems, sexual transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV, contraception, comprehensive abortion care, maternal health, fertility and infertility issues among others.
Kakukuru’s presentation highlighted the emphasis on Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) and the relevance and benefits of GRB in, improving on setting priorities; increasing support to gender mainstreaming efforts as a strategy towards gender equality; improving the allocation of resources and strengthening the linkages between social and economic policy outcomes. Gender responsive budgets strengthen Parliament's role in the budgetary process to (i) improve the allocations of resources to poor women and men (ii) to enhance the links between economic and social policy outcomes, (iii) tracking expenditures against gender and development commitments strengthens accountability and transparency in the budgetary process.
Furthermore, there is a need to strengthen the capacity or role of parliamentarians to analyse the budget, scrutinize relevant reports and understand general economic issues, from a gender perspective.
Speaker of Children's parliament, Nevel Ndoli stepped in on the advancement and interests and rights of people with disabilities. Ndoli called upon mechanism to gauge effectiveness of current legislation.
Ms. Joyce Nakutta, Director of Committee Services at the National Assembly, highlighted the commitment and involvement of the leadership, in the persons of the Speaker and the Secretary of the National Assembly as a remarkable enabler to reach the objectives of the programme. The second session turned to the taboo and the stigma associated with sexual reproductive health and related rights issues.
“The mere fact that Parliamentarians participated, helped us to gauge their level of understanding on the topic, she remarked. In summary the parliament or legislature plays an important role in promoting sexual reproductive rights and the facts around it. I’m looking forward to continue to create opportunities for discussion and engagement with MP’s to improve the level of debate in the House” Nakutta noted.
The workshop provided some guidance, inspiration and practical tools to ensuring engagement in the planning and facilitation of dialogue processes to advocate and solving SRHR challenges.