News

“I want to share a dream that we need to have to protect our young people from harm” – Namibia’s First Lady

4 June 2019
“I also dream of a statistics heaven, where we have timely and accurate statistics on health interventions," said First Lady Monica Geingos. © UNFPA Namibia/Emma Mbekele

WINDHOEK, Namibia—“I want to share with you a dream that we need to have – a dream where we protect our young people from harm,” said Namibia’s First Lady Monica Geingos. "And this dream starts by ensuring access to reproductive health information to anybody who [can] impregnate [someone] and anybody who can fall pregnant. If a thirteen-year-old can impregnate [someone], and if a thirteen-year-old can fall pregnant, they need to have access to the information and services that can assist them.”

If a thirteen-year-old can impregnate [someone], and if a thirteen-year-old can fall pregnant, they need to have access to the information and services that can assist them.

She was speaking at UNFPA Namibia’s launch of its Roadmap to Nairobi at a high-level reception to celebrate UNFPA’s 50th anniversary (UNFPA@50) and the 25th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25).

Significant strides have been made for young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, she said, but we need to close the gaps. “I also dream of a statistics heaven, where we have timely and accurate statistics on health interventions, and on police statistics so we can identify problematic behaviour and arrest problematic patterns before they turn into a crisis.”

The Roadmap to Nairobi sets out commemorative events that UNFPA Namibia will carry out throughout the year to advance the objectives of ICPD25. It will culminate in Namibia’s reaffirmation of the validity of the Cairo ICPD agenda at the high-level global Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the promise in Kenya from 12-14 November 2019.

Inequality, discrimination and politics threaten IPCD gains


“The hard-won gains remain under threat in a world stricken by
multi-dimensional forms of inequality, persistent discrimination
and political turbulence.” - Dennia Gayle, UNFPA Representative.
© UNFPA Namibia/Emma Mbekele

The Promise of Cairo remains as relevant as it was in 1994 – although not yet fully met, said UNFPA Representative for Namibia Dennia Gayle.

“The hard-won gains remain under threat in a world stricken by multi-dimensional forms of inequality, persistent discrimination and political turbulence,” Ms. Gayle said. Additional threats are rising conservatism and resource constraints from economic tailwinds.

“We are optimists and we are resilient,” she added, this despite it often feeling like two steps were being taken forward and one step back.

“Women and girls matter”

Chairperson of the National Council Margaret Mensah-Williams described her experiences as a young female activist in intergovernmental processes that helped shape the ICPD: “We started looking at the ICPD document and we said, this is what’s going to mould us. We had a voice and a clear message – women and girls matter.”

Youth representative Gogontlejang Phaladi said that for women's reproductive health and rights to be fully realized in Africa, the continent must brace for many uncomfortable and controversial discussions.

We need to be asking ourselves, 25 years since ICPD, why is it easier for a young person to get a sugar daddy or sugar mommy [than] it is for them to get an opportunity in economic empowerment?

“We need to be asking ourselves, 25 years since ICPD, why is it easier for a young person to get a sugar daddy or sugar mommy [than] it is for them to get an opportunity in economic empowerment? Why is it easier for students to access pornographic content than it is for them to access comprehensive sexuality education?” she asked.

“We need to harness domestic resources to invest in home-grown innovation and digitalization that will enhance service delivery and provision. Young people in Africa are coming up with great innovations. I envisage a very near future where the best innovations actually come from Africa,” she concluded.

- Emma Mbekele