Exploring mechanisms to improve female parliamentarians’ participation in decision-making: Case study of Namibian National Assembly

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University of Namibia
The study aimed to explore mechanisms to improve female parliamentarians’ participation in decision-making, propose way to assist female parliamentarians to effectively participate in substantive decision-making and explore measures that can facilitate women’s active role in participating in legislative processes. The study employed a qualitative research approach using a case study design. This research design provided a contextual, in-depth information on the why and how questions that could provide great insights and was useful for understanding mechanisms in place to assist female parliamentarians to effectively participate in substantive decision making. A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect data for the study. The data was analysed using thematic data method, which was accomplished by searching a data set for repeated patterns, analysing them, and reporting them using themes. The study findings revealed that there some mechanisms in place (such as: as framework laws, governmental programs, national action plans, and the establishment of gender equality committees) to improve female parliamentarians’ participation in decision making. However, despite these mechanisms, female parliamentarians continue to face obstacles when attempting to table, defend, and pass motions in parliament. The obstacles identified include lack of confidence, language barriers (low level of fluency in official language), lack of exposure to national and international debates, and party structures (how members are ranked in the party). The study therefore concluded that the system needs to ensure that female parliamentarians are on party lists. Female parliamentarians require a strong women's movement as well as collaboration between civil society organisations and political parties, to advocate for women. The study also suggests that female parliamentarians be exposed to exchange visits in order to learn from other female legislators. A critical recommendation is for female parliamentarians to avoid political affiliation as a ground rule for opposing female ideas or motions, and political party rules/agenda should not interfere with a country's national platform to solve national issues
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of master of arts in development studies
Female parliamentarians, Parliamentary decision-making, Motions, Table, Defend and put through, Mechanisms, Women’s political participation and representation