Roundtable discussion sparks talks for action and change

The Ombudsman in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat recently held roundtable discussions on equality and inclusion understood in the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRH) in Namibia. The discussions also included the context of sexual orientation and gender identity in Namibia. The week-long discussions saw stakeholders from the Education, civil society; NGOs, government and other sectors share their experiences and challenges pertaining to the two issues at hand.
First lady, Monica Geingos was the keynote speaker and urged parents and guardians to speak to their children in a relatable and comfortable manner when it comes to issues regarding sex. She added that parents need to have these difficult conversations with their children,’’ let’s partner with other people where we have to, there are many unconventional partners.’’ Geingos also touched on the financial bargaining power in relationships and how this can have an impact on the SRH of someone who is financially dependent on their partner.
With regards to sexual orientation and gender identity the Ombudsman, John Walters called for the issue to be approached with open minds in order to improve the protection of LGBTIQ persons. The Ombudsman added that the Namibian Constitutional law does not permit the criminal law to be held captive by popular misconceptions about who LBTIQ persons are.
Various speakers shone light on SRH and LGBTIQ matters through presentations including statistics which depicted the situation in the country. Participants in the discussions called for stakeholders to get organized and approach policymakers with one unified voice when advocating for change. A comprehensive report on the discussions and the way forward will be released soon.