When we raise our voices against injustices in society, it is equally important that we offer potential solutions to ensure that these injustices do not continuously thrive. The end goal is that we note tangible improvements in our societies and in the way people behave. For #Shutitalldown, the safety of women and girls across the country, the delivery of justice for those subjected to inhumane treatment, and changes in the mindsets of those in communities, amongst many other things. Many young people have taken up this role of addressing how we could ensure long-lasting solutions.
Our Head of Content, Woopi Takarasima, spoke to Theopolina PN Shikongo, a first-year student at the University of Namibia (UNAM) studying for a BA in Political Science (honors). She was born in Namibia and raised in the coastal town of Swakopmund. Theopolina has been vocal about different issues that affect young people across the globe. Her solution-driven approach to problem-solving is something we can all learn from during this difficult time. Our Head of Content was happy to reconnect with her and get insights into how we can implement sustainable and long-lasting solutions.
Miss Shikongo, like many young people in Namibia, has been advocating for reforms in the way Sexual Offenses and Violence cases against women are treated in Namibia. She recognizes that we must always return to the communities where these problems occur beyond the government level. We must equally focus on prevention as we do the punishments to help in completely alleviating the problems.
She highlights the availability of resources in Namibia to utilize in the fight for change and the need to adopt strategies to make use of the existing structures effectively. In the same way that the COVID19 pandemic has been approached with the desire to be prepared and alert, so should the protection of all women and girls in Namibia. Miss Shikongo emphasizes that until women feel safe in their communities, they can never truly be free.
One of the major drivers of femicide, sexual violence, and gender-based violence is the cultures cultivated in our communities, sometimes unknowingly for many years. For example, the normalization of violence in romantic relationships, especially against women, and the silence of the community when young girls are molested. These are some of the many behaviors that have been normalized in many communities for years, and as a result, they become a culture of sorts. Unless they are unlearned, women and girls will continue to be in danger.
The beauty of culture is that it is not static. We can continuously redefine what we would like it to look like, and Miss Shikongo believes that this is a pivotal realization on the road towards change. There is a lot of unlearning and relearning our communities have to go through, and this re-education can only take place if all of us take it upon ourselves to be the ones at the forefront. She suggests directing funding into programs that educate communities about the effects of femicides, sexual violence, and gender-based violence. Miss Shikongo brings out a fascinating analysis of the power that we have regarding knowledge and innovation and how we can tap into those reserves to find ways to educate communities to prevent hostile living environments for women altogether.
Education plays a fundamental role in ensuring that children growing up now grow up in safe societies. If this re-education as a means of redefining and eliminating bad culture does not occur, children raised today will still have to face and address the same problems that we are dealing with today.
We may not have an unlimited source of resources to go around every community as individuals educating people. We must not only wait for the government to act. In our capacities, we must all do our best to play our part. Miss Shikongo demonstrates that we all have the power to use our knowledge or equip ourselves to understand that we need to raise awareness and educate the people around us on the issues affecting women in Namibia and across the world.
In Miss Shikongo’s words, “we can all do something, call a friend, and talk about these issues, educate yourself and educate others.”
So reach out to someone today and make a difference, one person at a time.
Theopolina PN Shikongo | Namibian Student at University of Namibia
curated by Woopi Takarasima | Head of Content, Campeedia.