EARLY childhood development (ECD) and protection from harm are some of the essentials that the First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, credits for her success – and she explained that these elements are also crucial for the proper functioning of society because “we cannot have a society that functions when we have broken children”.
The First Lady made these remarks at First National Bank’s (FNB) unveiling of the “Africa’s Fearless Thinker and Lion” statue on Wednesday. The statue, which was commissioned by the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in 2018, was inspired by the “Fearless Girl” sculpture in New York and created by South-African artists, Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe and Pieter Greyvensteyn.
“The artwork we unveil today depicts a proud and courageous African thinker: her chin held aloft, her stance bold, her right-hand gesturing towards the resting concrete lion by her side. The statue stands for an artistic expression of fearless thinking, courage, diversity and, most of all, gender equality,” RMB’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Philip Chapman, said.
Geingos also dubbed the statue as a significant symbol of gender equality, adding that it serves as a reminder that girls and women need protection and empowerment so that they know that they can become “fearless thinkers”. This reminder, she explained, is particularly important given the unique and prevalent challenges that girls and women face in society.
Drawing from personal experience, she explained that the challenges that girls and women are faced with have lasting effects. The First Lady said that she not only experienced these challenges herself, but also saw the impact that it had on her daughter, who used to be a bubbly child, but became a quiet and withdrawn pre-teen due to societal objectification experienced at a young age.
“I knew why she’s getting quieter – the world was starting to shrink her. She was starting to perceive risks that she didn’t understand and what we need to do is to protect our daughters from those risks by openly talking to them about what it is,” Geingos said.
However, the First Lady explained, protecting and empowering girls and women goes beyond just talking to them. She emphasised that boys need to be educated on this matter as well because “a broken boy becomes a broken man and there’s nothing more destructive” as girls and women, typically, tend to suffer the consequences.
“Those who experience the worst of the brokenness, unfortunately, are women and girls – and this is coming from broken boys and men,” she added.
VIDEO: The First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, unveiled the “fearless thinker and lion” statue at the First National Bank Head office in Windhoek on Wednesday. Video: Ashley Nyambe.