One of the most significant areas of progress on gender in Namibia since 1996/7 has been government policies and programmes, including the establishment of the national gender machinery, the ratification of international instruments and national policies, as well as progressive gender-related law reform. The first section of this publication focuses on post-Beijing legal reforms. Although law reform is a key step in institutionalising women’s equality, changing laws and government policies alone neither guarantees women’s protection of their human rights nor ensures that gender based discrimination is eliminated at all levels of society. Indeed, gender specific law reforms may, initially, lead to higher levels of gender-based violence because some men may perceive women’s rights as a loss of their own rights. This is not to say that law reform should not be instituted, but that law reform alone cannot effect changes in the social and cultural realities within which women live. Changing attitudes and behaviour is important in effecting gender-equality.
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