In light of Nelson Mandela International Day-commemorated each year in 18 July-, on Thursday 21 July 2016, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek honored Nelson Mandela’s dedication to peace by partnering with Combat Club, a local Muay Thai club, and educating learners at Jakob Marengo Tutorial College about self-defense.
On Nelson Mandela International Day, individuals around the world are encouraged to devote 67 minutes - one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service - to helping others and jointly stepping towards a global movement for good. Because of the high prevalence of violence against women and gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia, UNIC Windhoek used its #Time2Serve to educate young girls about self-defense in order to provide them with the agency to protect themselves when faced with danger.Throughout the outreach, there was a special emphasis on the fact that violence should be the last resort in a situation of danger.
The event was officiated by the Namibian Ophthalmologist Dr. Helena Ndume, who encouraged the girls to help the country find solutions to end violence against women and girls along with the protection of human rights. Dr. Ndume was the first woman to receive the UN Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize, which honors the outstanding achievements of people who have dedicated their lives to the service to humanity. Dr. Ndume’s lifelong work has encompassed the treatment of blindness and eye-related illnesses, both in Namibia and throughout the developing world. To date, Dr. Ndume has helped over 30,000 Namibians receive eye surgery at no-cost as well as implant intraocular lens to address blindness, cataracts and myopia in many patients.Not only did she share her personal story of success, she further encouraged the girls to step it up, believe in themselves and take action for the people in their communities.
Following this motivational message, a professional Martial Arts trainer Pedro Costa and his colleagues of Combat Club Windhoek, a local Muay Thai club, taught the girls the basics of self-defense and emboldened the learners to believe in their strengths as well as to skillfully and wisely utilize them in case of danger.
After a little warm-up and an instruction on proper body posture, Combat Club Windhoek taught the young female learners some basic punching and kicking techniques. Although the girls were timid and shy at the beginning, they were swiftly immersed into the world of martial arts and became eager to test their new skills against protection shields provided by the trainers. Not only were the exercises entertaining and fun, but they were also educational, as most of the girls have never before been taught about self-defense and how to properly behave when being attacked.
Lastly and most importantly, the training also aimed to deliver the message that, everyone, regardless of sex, gender, height, skin color or age, has the right to live a life without violence and discrimination, both physically and mentally. However, if this right is infringed, every girl and every woman should feel empowered and be capable of defending themselves and others. As Nelson Mandela put it, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
With this unique outreach campaign UNIC Windhoek, in cooperation with Dr. Helena Ndume and Combat Club Windhoek, hopes to spread the message of self-empowerment and gender justice to all those women and girls who are suffering from GBV and promote a society that values diversity and raises its voice for gender equality.