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Speaking for ourselves

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Building courage and feminist leadership

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Cultural pride, voice and visibility

Speaking for ourselves - Voices of San young women


The indigenous San peoples are the most marginalised and socially excluded group of people in Namibia today. Most San groups are struggling for sheer socio-economic survival, as well as to maintain traditional livelihoods, knowledge, skills, languages, customs, values and histories and thereby their unique cultural identities.

The extreme levels of poverty, racial and ethnic discrimination and limited access to basic services and infrastructure have led to the basic ties of support, reciprocity and solidarity breaking down in many communities, resulting in a general sense of distrust and lack of purpose and prospects.

San girls and women living in Namibia today experience multiple layers of discrimination and oppression on the bases of gender, race, ethnicity, indigenous status, language, class, age, education and geographic location. The situation of San young women in core areas of social life, such as education, employment and health, is worse than that of young women in other ethnic groups of Namibia. The inequalities they experience can be seen in their extreme poverty and geographic isolation; lack of land, resources, services and sustainable livelihoods; high levels of violence; high rates of TB, HIV and Aids; high levels of illiteracy in their indigenous languages as well as in English; early marriages and motherhood with high rates of maternal and child mortality; incomplete formal education and the lack of further education and vocational training opportunities for San young women, as well as their lack of participation in official decision-making structures.


The objective of this programme is to facilitate the self-knowledge, self-awareness, cultural pride, voice, visibility, feminist leadership, sisterhood and solidarity among indigenous San young women from diverse communities across Namibia, and to facilitate their influence in the social and political sphere through engaging in advocacy on issues affecting their lives with key stakeholders at the local, regional and national levels. We currently work with Khwe, Hei||om, !Xung and Ju|’hoansi young women’s groups in Kavango East, Otjikoto and Omaheke regions. In 2022 we piloted a new project to involve San men and boys in the prevention of family violence in their communities.

Our focus in 2023 is to strengthen the San Girls Circles as safe spaces for personal and collective growth in six communities, as well as to support the local San women’s groups with strategic planning for self-directed activities.

Research and publications

Our Donors

The Women's Leadership Centre is grateful to the following donors, who have provided financial and other support for our work.