Dr. Debie LeBeau with research assistant Phillip Shilongo (sitting)Dr. Debie LeBeauGender in Namibia

Gender Research & Publications by Dr. Debie LeBeau Spence

Contact Dr. LeBeau Spence

Dr. Debie LeBeau Spence and her colleagues use anthropology to demonstrate how gendered differentiated structures are socially created within the household, as well as at the community and national levels. Often Dr. LeBeau’s research and writing have focused on understanding the gendered realities of women and men in southern Africa, particularly in Namibia, focusing on central areas such as rights to property, gender based violence and gender equality in the legal and political areas. Dr. LeBeau’s work uses the Gender And Development (GAD) paradigm which requires a radical shift from development models that tend to be 'gender blind', towards a gender mainstreaming model aimed at addressing potential gender differences in programs and activities in an effort to empower women within currently male dominated economic, political and social structures.

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Social Science Research Workbook

HIV and AIDS in Africa

Ethnicity and Inequality in Namibia

Traditional Medicine in Africa

Izilwane Research in Africa

Gender Training and Research Programme (GTRP/ UNAM)

Medical Sociology /Anthropology Workbook

Women and Work in Namibia

Women cooking a Sunday dinner for their large familyBushman women on a food for work program in northern Namibia"Gender Disaggregated Work in Rural Northern Namibia" by Dr. Debie LeBeau and Christa Schier

This report, prepared for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development and the GTRP/UNAM, examines three national databases on agricultural and household tasks in the rural areas of northern Namibia. The data are disaggregated by sex of the household head and/or sex of the household worker. 

These data indicate that male and female work loads are gender stereotyped for rural household production and reproduction. 
Women in their fruit orchard
In most Namibian communities women and girls are responsible for all aspects of household reproduction including fetching water and collecting firewood. 

Women are also responsible for most aspects of subsistence agriculture. Men's primary agricultural roles are looking after livestock and ploughing the fields. 

A Bushman woman making a basket to sellDr. Debie LeBeau interviewing a bushman womanFemales in female-headed households are more likely to cross pervasive gendered boundaries to perform culturally defines male tasks, while males in male-headed households are not, probably because there are females present in male-headed households. 

Male-headed households also have more cash, livestock and crops available for household consumption; meaning they are wealthier than female-headed households. 

Gender and Sexuality in Namibia

In Small Things Stolen: The Archeology of Inheritance versus Property Grabbing in Katutura by Dr. Debie LeBeau“The Economics of Sex Work: Implications for Sex Workers’ HIV Risk-taking and Legal Alternatives for Namibia” by Debie LeBeau. In: Unraveling Taboos: Gender and Sexuality in Namibia. Suzanne LaFont and Dianne Hubbard (eds)

The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) has recently published the book “Unraveling Taboos: Gender and Sexuality in Namibia" which contains 19 chapters which examine misunderstandings, stereotypes and taboos about gender and sexuality in contemporary Namibia. 

Dr LeBeau’s chapter examines the current status of sex work in Namibia and argues for its decriminalization. Through interviews with sex workers she finds that poverty contributes to women participating in sex for economic exchanges. However, many of these women are not able to enforce condom use, placing themselves and their subsequent sexual partners at risk for HIV infection. 

In general, HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAPs) among sex workers is high, but due to social factors this knowledge is not always translated into lowering HIV risk-taking. Most sex workers indicate that they prefer to use condoms but that many of their clients pay more for unprotected sex. However, sex workers in specific areas earn enough money to enable them to demand condom use, while in other areas sex workers do not have the economic power to negotiate safer sex practices due to substantial poverty, too many sex workers (high competition), and no other alternatives for income generation.

“Unravelling Taboos brings up for discussion uncomfortable truths about Sexuality in Namibia” (Allgemeuine Zeitung, 2/23/07)

Click here to go to the LAC's site for a full copy of this text

Women and Property in Namibia

In Small Things Stolen: The Archeology of Inheritance versus Property Grabbing in Katutura by Dr. Debie LeBeauDr. Debie LeBeau interviewing women with children“In Small Things Stolen: The Archeology of Inheritance versus Property Grabbing in Katutura” by Debie LeBeau. In: The Meanings of Inheritance: Perspectives on Namibian Inheritance Practices. Dianne Hubbard, Robert Gordon, Michael Bollig and Mercedes Ovis (eds)

The research for this chapter comes from interviews conducted as an extension of the GTRP/LAC inheritance research discussed on the GTRP page. This chapter explains that in some African societies a deceased man's male relatives have customarily been the heirs to property with the intention that this property is to be used for the support of the widow and children. However, many people have begun to manipulate customary inheritance to ‘grab’ wealth that they would not otherwise have access to. Ultimately this form of property inheritance often functions to leave the man's relatives wealthy, while the widow and children are left destitute. However, just as urbanization has brought greater wealth, it has also brought better education for women and greater access to civil legal support for retaining property after the death of a spouse. 

If there is one aspect of inheritance this chapter most aptly highlights, it is the social contradictions and emotional confusion surrounding changing customary norms and practices. The contradiction between rural customs and urban values plays itself out in the arena of inheritance where actors may not share the same beliefs and goals for the distribution of property. Some informants explain that emotions run high when discussing inheritance because property that is inherited has a stronger sentimental value than property which is purchased, while others argue that greed sometimes comes into play with inheritance.

Click here to go to the LAC's site for a full copy of this text

Women and Power Sharing in Namibia

Women and Power Sharing: Namibia's Progress towards Gender Equality by  Dr. Debie LeBeau and Eunice IipingeEunice Iipinge, Dr Debie LeBeau and the then Minister of Women's Affairs and Child Welfare"Women and Power Sharing: Namibia's Progress towards Gender Equality" by Debie LeBeau and Eunice Iipinge, In: Southern Africa Post-Apartheid? The Search for Democratic Governance, Chris Landsberg and Shaun Mackay (eds)

Namibia's quest for democratic governance has borne witness to significant strides in the sphere of gender equality through government policies and programs which include the domestication of international conventions and national policies as well as gender-related law reform. This chapter examines women's status both under colonialism and within the post-colonial state. 

Elderly women voting in a community level electionAn important theme running through this chapter is the progress Namibia has made in the social and legal gender equality movements, as well as great women's participation in positions of power sharing - in particular women in politics – and the link between these two contested loci. This chapter examines the trend towards greater women's participation in power sharing as part of the overall empowerment of women. The conclusion of this analysis is that women cannot attain gender equality in social, economic and legal spheres of Namibian society without greater participation in power sharing and decision-making structures. Conversely, there needs to be a 'critical mass' of women in positions of power and decision-making to act as a catalyst for social change. In Namibia, the struggle for gender equality is not only played out at the social and legal levels, but also in the political arena. Therefore, development of greater gender equality must simultaneously occur at the social, legal and power sharing levels.

Click here to go to the Centre for Policy Studies's site for a full copy of this text

An Introduction to Gender in Namibia by Dr. Debie LeBeauBeijing + 10: The Way Forward. An Introduction to Gender

"Namibia's Progress towards Gender Equality: Post-Beijing Policies and Programmes" by Dr. Debie LeBeau, Senior Researcher and Eunice Iipinge, Coordinator GTRP

The first chapter in this volume by the Namibian Institute for Democracy (NID) shows that one of the most significant aspects of progress on gender issues in Namibia since the 1995 Beijing Conference has been in the area of policies and programs which include the adoption of international instruments and national policies as well as progressive gender-related law reform. The chapter further examines how law reform is only the first step in institutionalizing women's equality, although it should be recognized that law reform alone cannot effect changes in the social and cultural realities, and that other social changes combined with education and information campaigns can make people aware of changing ideologies. 

Dr. Debie LeBeau interviewing community members in northern Namibia"Community Perceptions on Law Reform: People Speaking Out" by Dr. Debie LeBeau, Senior Researcher and Grant J. Spence, Consultant

The second chapter in this book examines how national level policies and programs are interpreted by local community members. Interviews indicate that most women and men have a good working knowledge of issues associated with gender-related law reform, especially on topics such as gender-based violence. Women say their information comes from mass media sources, while men get their information from each other, and their internalization of the concept of 'gender equality' are very different. Men are more likely to view women's rights in a negative manner, often concentrating on how 'women's rights' has 'caused' some contemporary social problems or how they feel 'women's rights' has detracted from 'men's rights'.

Click here to go to the NID's site for a full copy of this text

"Capacity Needs Assessment for the National Gender Machinery in Namibia" by Eunice Iipinge, Debie LeBeau and Andrew Niikondo

This research report for the South African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) found that in Namibia the Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Welfare (MWACW now the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare MGECW) is the primary line ministry for the National Gender Machinery (NGM) supported by other government institutions, NGOs, donor agencies, parastatals, political parties and civil society. This report specifically analyzes the activities of the MWACW and those of other NGM component stakeholder institutions. The most pressing areas of concern are a lack of qualified staff trained in the field of gender as well as a lack of legal instrument for the implementation of gender policies and programs. This report recommends that Namibia adopt a National Gender Act of Parliament which should stipulate gender mainstreaming activities, provide time-lines for implementation and contain adequate monitoring and accountability mechanisms for the NGM.

A tired Dr LeBeau walking to interview community members in northern Namibia"Gender Mainstreaming and Disability Sensitization In Civic and Voter Education for USAID Namibia" by Susan D. Somach, Debie LeBeau and Jerome Mindes

This research report for DEVTECH and USAID Namibia examines the Electoral Support Consortium (ESC), which is a combined donor, NGO and government effort to encourage voters to participate in elections and to help voters make informed voting decisions. Although there have been problems with the ESC, it is probably one of the most significant contributions to the consolidation of democracy in Namibia. It is through such collaborative efforts that democracy can be consolidated within the Namibian context. Some contributors to the democratic process in Namibia work directly on issues relating to democracy, while others strive to develop the social, economic and educational lives of Namibians, particularly among people previously marginalized from the voting process such as women, ethnic minorities and disabled people. 

Click here to go to DEVTECH's site for a full copy of this text

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Contact Dr. Debie LeBeau Spence
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                                                                         Debie LeBeau Spence
PHONE: +1-915-988-2550                                      Silver Fern Ranch
EMAIL: lebeau@developmentafrica.com                   55013-B 62/180 HWY
                          or                                                       El Paso, Tx 79938
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This page last updated October 12, 2009
© D LeBeau 2009