Briefing paper
1 June 2022

Involving boys and men to challenge violence against girls and women in Namibia

Author: Philippe Talavera
Published by: ALIGN, Ombetja Yehinga Organisation
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This research, conducted by the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO), looks at organisations and projects in Namibia that work with boys and men to challenge violence against girls and women. Most of the organisations addressing gender-based violence in Namibia offer counselling services, training sessions and workshops.

For this research, 11 project leaders from 11 organisations (two ministries and nine civil service organisations (CSOs)) were interviewed. 11 project beneficiaries from four of the CSOs were also interviewed. Finally, a workshop with 30 young people was organised to review results and discuss findings. 

Key findings from the research:

  • In most cases, participants at the workshops and training sessions felt empowered, however, some of the young people participating were more critical.
  • Current gender-based violence (GBV) campaigns in Namibia stereotype woman as ‘victims’ and men as ‘aggressors’. They suggest the country needs to rethink its GBV campaigns to de-normalise this trend and give room to other narratives.
  • ‘What I will see as violence, the other culture will see it as a belief.’ Not all cultures understand violence in the same way. Current models of training sessions and workshops should not only focus on the legal definition of GBV, but also start by identifying what participants consider as violence and what is accepted in their community. This will help the trainer understand where gaps are and how to help communities understand what needs to change. 
  • Campaigns are slow to adapt to change. In particular there is not enough recognition of emerging dominant forms of GBV such as emotional violence and online violence.

Furthermore, most campaigns and projects are donor dependent. They are limited in time and have specific targets to reach. As a result, most campaigns reach urban areas to the detriment of rural areas. To change the narrative, considerations for different backgrounds and ethnics groups must be taken into account at the planning stages and long-term campaigns with the affected populations and youth at their centre, must be instigated.

This report is an output from the third round of ALIGN's micro-granting facility which provides organisations and individuals with grants for research and learning. See more about this round of funding.


About Ombetja Yehinga Organisation

The Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO) aims to use the arts – both visual and performing – to create awareness and mitigate the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other social problems, such as gender-based violence, rape, and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs amongst the youth of Namibia. OYO works in schools and out of schools, with both teenagers and young adults. OYO is a Namibian Welfare Organisation (WO 199) established in December 2002, and officially launched in March 2003. It was registered as a Trust with the High Court of Namibia in 2009.