Windhoek – The U.S. government-funded DREAMS Program has recently certified 23 young Namibian women as No-Means-No instructors to train adolescent girls in techniques to protect themselves against gender-based violence (GBV). The training strengthens self-esteem in young women and includes exercises in self-defense.
“The No-Means-No instructors will play a pivotal role in addressing violence against children and gender-based violence by demonstrating what it looks like to be empowered and confident, and to have the skills to prevent or escape violent situations. This is even more important given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child and gender-based violence,” said Jessica Long, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy at the graduation ceremony on September 9 in the capital.
The 2013 Demographic Health Survey showed that one in three Namibian women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced physical violence. Data indicates that the situation has worsened during the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, resulting in more abuse and a significant increase in teenage pregnancies.
DREAMS stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe and has already enrolled more than 50,000 young women and girls in Namibia. The program is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“USAID is committed to its work addressing gender inequality and gender-based violence, which affects us all and is present in all societies. That is why we all have a role to play, and we should support programs that address this social ill,” said Acting USAID Country Representative Mark Anthony White.
The new instructors will provide No-Means-No training in the Khomas, Oshikoto and Zambezi regions, where the DREAMS program is implemented by Project Hope Namibia and partners.