OTHER AREAS OF WORK
GENDER RESEARCH & ADVOCACY PROJECT
Have you ever wanted to convince Parliament to pass a law on a particular topic?
Ever wanted to persuade your regional council to provide better services for the elderly, or to pressure your local authority to take steps against illegal shebeens?
Ever wanted to lobby your local clinic to stay open for longer hours, or to convince your school to introduce a new extracurricular activity?
Ever wanted to influence a decision by a government body such as the Social Security Commission or a Communal Land Board?
Ever wanted to convince your church to play a more active role in speaking out on HIV, to convince your employer to offer a better medical aid plan or to convince your traditional leader to involve more women in community decision-making?
If you have ever wanted to influence decisions like these, then you are interested in advocacy.
Advocacy is an effort to influence a law, a policy or some other decision. Advocacy can be directed at various levels of government, government bodies, or other institutions or individuals. And, if you are interested in improving your advocacy skills, then you might be interested in the GR&AP publication Advocacy in Action: A guide to influencing decision-making in Namibia.
Advocacy in Action is a 336-page manual aimed primarily at NGOs and grassroots-based groups who are interested in increasing their advocacy skills. It contains concrete, practical information about advocacy strategies such as petitions, press conferences, public demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns as well as detailed information on government structures and Parliamentary procedures - and how to influence decision-making bodies and processes. The manual is written in simple English, with many photographs, illustrations and examples. It includes actual case studies of advocacy efforts in Namibia. The manual is aimed primarily at civil society, but it will also be of interest to office-bearers at the local, regional and national level. It is best used as "textbook" for workshops on advocacy skills.
Contact the Gender Research & Advocacy Project if you are interested in obtaining a copy of the manual. You can also request an advocacy training workshop for your organization. However, GR&AP has only limited funds for holding such workshops, so we may not be able to respond to your request unless your group can bear the costs of the workshop.
Read an article from our archive (2004): Ideas for increasing public participation in the law-making process
The wide-ranging, insightful and
provocative collection of chapters in
this volume makes academic research
available to any reader interested in
the dynamics of gender and sexuality
in Namibia today. Nineteen essays by
prominent academics and analysts
seek to unravel the misconceptions,
stereotypes and taboos surrounding the
concepts of gender equality, sexuality
and sexual rights in Namibia.
Read Unravelling Taboos
In 2002, GR&AP published a major piece of research on commercial sex entitled Whose Body Is It?: Commercial Sex Work and the Law in Namibia. At the same time, GR&AP commissioned Quiet Storm Films to produce Not a Life You Ask For, a television documentary entitled on human rights and sex work based on some 30 interviews with sex workers in Windhoek and Walvis Bay.
These projects were intended to provide data to policy-makers as they contemplate law and policy reforms on sex work, particularly in light of the HIV pandemic, and to allow sex workers, as a vulnerable and marginalised group to communicate their concerns in their own words. The research findings were discussed at a workshop in December 2002 which highlighted the human rights issues facing sex workers in Namibia today. This meeting was aimed at policy-makers and groups which are engaged in relevant support work, and was attended by about 50 persons, including 12 sex workers. Two representatives of the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) came from Cape Town to advise on support work for sex workers.
In 2005, the GR&AP gave testimony on sex workers to the National Council Standing Committee on Gender, Youth and Information as part of its investigation to investigate "the plight of sex workers, street kids and other vulnerable persons".
In 2006, the GR&AP will make legal and policy recommendations on the problem of children engaged in sex work and the trafficking of children.
Follow-up research on sex workers was published by GR&AP in the form of a monograph in 2008, and GR&AP has proposed provisions aimed at helping children involved in sex work for inclusion in the forthcoming Child Care and Protection Act.
In 2008, GR&AP partnered with the Self-regulating Alcohol Forum and Namibian Breweries to produce a short information booklet on Preventing underage drinking: A guide to individual and community action.The pamphlet gives information about the physical and social problems associated with underage drinking, gives information about what the law says about underage drinking and gives ideas for community action to address underage drinking. Designed in a colourful and simple format, this booklet has filled an important information gap in Namibia as many people at workshops ask for information about how to address this issue.
Research on the law in respect to underage drinking and recommendations for law reform were published by GR&AP in the form of a monograph in 2008, and GR&AP has proposed provisions aimed at strengthening the law in this regard for inculsion in the forthcoming Child Care and Protection Act.
Rebecca Stubbs, a law student from Vanderbilt University, spent three months with GR&AP in 2008 conducting preliminary research on strategies for test cases on family law issues. The overall aim of the research is to propose a framework for introducing new mechanisms for public interest litigation into the Namibian legal system, which would give the LAC or other non-profit organisations greater scope to litigate on behalf of victims (or groups of victims) who has suffered human rights abuses. Research has so far included investigation into the concept of legal standing, to see how it could be applied to allow appropriate women’s groups to bring an action questioning specific tenets of existing family law and to investigate criteria for seeking declaratory judgments, to see if a broader application of this mechanism could be relevant to family law issues. Further research on this topic is in progress.
GENDER AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
Article 144 of the Namibian Constitution incorporates international law into Namibia's domestic law. This means that Namibia is bound to follow the international agreements that it has formally adopted, in the same way as it must enforce the laws made by our own Parliament. Would you like to know more about Namibia's international commitments on gender? The Gender Research & Advocacy Project has developed a 230-page document on this topic, called International Human Rights and Gender.
The document covers the following conventions and agreements:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Convention on The Elimination All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Beijing Platform for Action
- African Charter for Human and People's Rights and its Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa
- SADC Declaration on Gender and Development.
The publication also has a chapter on international provisions relating specifically to violence against women.
Each international agreement is introduced and explained in simple language, along with information about Namibia's commitment to each agreement (such as the date when Namibia agreed to it). Full texts of most of the documents are included.
This publication is designed as a reference manual particularly for policy-makers. It will also be useful to lawyers and law students.
Read an article: African Protocol on the Rights of Women Takes One Step Forward (2003)
Read an article about CEDAW (1998)