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Cablegate: Namibia: Nominee for International Women of Courage (Iwoc)

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PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHWD #0338/01 3021517
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P 281517Z OCT 08 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0130
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WINDHOEK 000338

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (TEXT PAR 8)

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN PREL KPAO PHUM WA
SUBJECT: NAMIBIA: NOMINEE FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE (IWOC)

REF: STATE 99729

WINDHOEK 00000338 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) U.S. Embassy Windhoek is proud to nominate Elizabeth
!Khaxas as our candidate for the Secretary of State's 2009 Award for
International Women of Courage (IWOC). Despite threats and
harassment, Elizabeth !Khaxas has demonstrated outstanding courage
and leadership in promoting the political advancement and civil
rights of women in Namibia. She has shown exceptional courage in
her role as a women's rights and gay rights' advocate.

2. (SBU) !Khaxas was a founding member of Sister Namibia. Sister
Namibia was founded in 1989, just prior to Namibia's independence
from South Africa. !Khaxas and her colleagues established Sister
Namibia to give women a voice in the building of a democratic
post-colonial society. Sister Namibia strives "to challenge
structures and stereotypes that oppress and divide women."

3. (SBU) From 1999 to 2002, !Khaxas was the director of Sister
Namibia. As Director, she helped expand the organization's scope
beyond the publishing of its flagship magazine by establishing a
nationwide capacity building program. !Khaxas and Sister Namibia
actively participated in a multimedia campaign on violence against
women. !Khaxas's efforts resulted in a new sexual assault bill that
imposes tough sentences on rapists and other sexual predators.

4. (SBU) !Khaxas and Sister Namibia have also been a driving force
behind the 50/50 Campaign for Women's Political Empowerment, a
project to increase women's participation in Namibian politics. The
goal of the 50/50 Campaign is for Namibia to reach equal
representation between women and men in elected office. Working
with other non-governmental organizations Sister Namibia developed
the Women`s Network Manifesto Movement. This umbrella organization
has brought together 30 organizations representing women from the
full range of political and social backgrounds. The mobilizing and
awareness raising activities, conducted country-wide beginning in
2000, culminated in the drafting of legislation that aims to create
a 50/50 gender balance in all representative government bodies. The
bill was submitted to the relevant Parliamentary Standing Committee
for consideration, the first time legislation was ever submitted to
Parliament from a non-executive branch source. The work of the
Women`s Network Manifesto Movement was inline with Embassy
Windhoek's Mission Strategic Plan, so much so, that USAID's
democracy and governance program provided support to the Movement.

5. (SBU) Through Sister Namibia, !Khaxas founded The Rainbow
Project (TRP) in 1997. TRP focuses and raises awareness on issues
of sexuality, sexual orientation and the human rights of gay and
lesbian people in Namibia.

6. (SBU) On numerous occasions !Khaxas' work has put her at odds
with Namibia's government and ruling SWAPO party. Amnesty
International wrote, "Elizabeth Khaxas, Director of Sister Namibia,
as well as many of the organization's active members have been
targeted because of their gender, sexual identity and/or advocacy
for lesbian rights. The organization has been regularly subjected to
violence, harassment and surveillance by the Namibian government due
to their advocacy of women's rights, including lesbian and gay human
rights."

7. (SBU) !Khaxas is currently the Director of the Women's
Leadership Center, an organization she founded in 2004. The Center
works to develop a new generation of young women leaders and
advocates in Namibia. The center conducts much of its work though
writing workshops for women living with and affected by HIV and
AIDS. The workshops aim to break the taboos and silences around the
many cultural practices that deny women their sexual, reproductive,
and civil rights. The workshops have generated two anthologies of
personal stories written by Namibian women, edited by !Khaxas.
Describing the first anthology printed in 2005, UNICEF's
Representative in Namibia Khin-Sandi Lwin stated, "[This]
compilation of writings by Namibian women convey[s] not only the
pain and anguish suffered by women from every corner of the country
but also the elements that can make the ultimate change towards
gender equality." The second anthology entitled We Must Choose
Life: Writings by Namibian Women on Culture, Violence, HIV and
AIDS, was published in 2008. She is currently working on a third
collection of stories and poetry from Namibian women that will
continue to shine a light on traditional practices that harm women.

8. (SBU) The following biographic information is keyed to paragraph
6 of reftel.

Legal name of nominee: Elizabeth !Khaxas
Job title/association: Director / The Women's Leadership Center
Date of birth: 25 June 1960 at
Country of birth: Namibia, (Usakos, Erongo Region)
Citizenship: Namibian
Address: Bauer Street, No 5 Klein-Windhoek
Telephone: +264 61 221106
E-mail: ncwl@mweb.com.na
Passport number: P0002110


WINDHOEK 00000338 002.3 OF 002

9. (SBU) Ms. !Khaxas has been informed of her nomination, and has
expressed appreciation for the USG's recognition.
HARRINGTON

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