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Service Learning for Social Justice

Brief History

Current Status of Namibia

Apartheid Issues

Effects of Apartheid on Physical Education & Sports

Other School Issues in Namibia

Girls & Women in Namibia

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Home > Girls & Women in Namibia

Girls & Women in Namibia

Herero woman
Herero woman
The horn-like hats that Herero women wear are said to represent the horns on the cattle they owned. The larger the cattle, the larger the horns on the hats.
Like the United States, Namibia has a history of being primarily a patriarchal society. In addition to the various issues discussed above, Namibian girls and women are the primary victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to an October 2005 fact sheet by the Kaiser Family Foundation, women account for more than half (55%) of adults estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Namibia. "Among young people ages 15-24, women are most affected - the estimated number of young women living with HIV/AIDS is more than twice that of young men." 9  In addition, because women have unequal social and economic status, they are placed at high risk for earlier infection, leading to their stigmatization and allowing them to be unfairly blamed for transmission of HIV/AIDS. 10

While in Namibia, we heard of stories where men infected with HIV/AIDS believe they can rid themselves of the disease by having sex with a virgin. To make sure they find a virgin, they are raping younger and younger girls, sometimes even babies. When a woman loses a husband to AIDS, she is often stripped of property and the right to own and farm land. "A recent FAO study found that over 40 percent of widows had lost cattle and tools, seized by relatives after the male head of household had died". 11 This lowered economic status can encourage high-risk behavior such as engaging in unsafe sex for money, housing or food for women and their children. It becomes evident that the cycle of poverty, HIV/Aids transmission, and gender disparity will be difficult to break.

All of these issues affect education, and therefore, PE and sport. According to a paper by Penina Mlama in September of 2005,

The factors behind the gender inequity and inequality in education include negative cultural values, attitudes and practices that foster teenage pregnancy, early marriage, sexual harassment, excessive domestic chores and the disregard of the importance of girls'/ education. There is also the lack of gender responsiveness among the teachers, in the curriculum, teaching methodology, teaching and learning materials, school management systems and the overall school environment. 12

Woven Arts of Africa
Woven Arts of Africa
While visiting the weavers we noticed that all the women working were black and the woman running the shop was a German white woman.

During our visit to Namibia we visited with many organizations (Penduka, Uniforms for Africa, The Rainbow Project, the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, and Sister Namibia) designed to help with the causes that women and girls in Namibia face. Garises mentioned that the girls that attend Hage Geingob Secondary School have benefited from The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), the leading organization in Africa which directly addresses issues relating to girls' education. Students receive scholarship funds for girls who cannot afford uniforms in Katutura. While in Swakopmund, we visited the Mondesa Youth Organization (MYO). MYO reminded me of a YMCA camp, integrating sport and activities with education. The program uses tennis to draw underprivileged girls and boys to the program, giving children opportunities to rotate educational tutoring with tennis.

Page 2 of Girls & Women in Namibia

Paper and photos by Bonnie J. Reimann.


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