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Lack of social transformation slows down change at UNAM

The University of Namibia (Unam) says that a lack of social transformation is the reason why the university, for the time being, will not consider introducing gender-neutral toilets despite the university claiming it wants to be an international 'best'.


Gender-neutral toilets are already a trend at certain USA and South African universities. It is becoming quite common to find separate toilets for males and females, and non-gendered toilets for bisexual and transgendered students.

Unam Public Relations Officer John Haufiku said the concept of having gender-neutral toilets is quite new and will take time to be accepted in Africa, where society still remains largely conservative.

The University of Cape Town is to introduce these toilets aimed at students who are transgendered or who don’t fit a specific gender identity. The toilets will bear the international gender-neutral sign and another sign stating, ‘These toilets are for everyone, regardless of gender, identity or expression.’  

As an international university, Unam does its best to conform to best practices from across the world as it wants to attract international staff and students.

As to being ready to adopt the international gender-neutral toilets Unam is not there yet as there is little support for the issue of sexual orientation in Namibia. It thus makes it difficult for the institution to take decisions that are seen to protect homosexuals’ rights, which are seen as a human rights issue that needs to happen with the political will and legal framework to support gender-neutral toilets or any other endeavour of homosexuals.

 “If the social transformation happens and people accept homosexuals and homosexuals accept being homosexual publicly, and if it is accepted as a gender orientation legally then as a university Unam won’t mind conforming with where the societal values are leading them,” Haufiku said.

With regard to Namibia this will certainly not be trending in our higher institutions any time soon as it is seen as a taboo.  

ic Relations Officer John Haufiku said the concept of having gender-neutral toilets is quite new and will take time to be accepted in Africa, where society still remains largely conservative. The University of Cape Town is to introduce these toilets aimed at students who are transgendered or who don’t fit a specific gender identity. The toilets will bear the international gender-neutral sign and another sign stating, ‘These toilets are for everyone, regardless of gender, identity or expression.’ As an international university, Unam does its best to conform to best practices from across the world as it wants to attract international staff and students. As to being ready to adopt the international gender-neutral toilets Unam is not there yet as there is little support for the issue of sexual orientation in Namibia. It thus makes it difficult for the institution to take decisions that are seen to protect homosexuals’ rights, which are seen as a human rights issue that needs to happen with the political will and legal framework to support gender-neutral toilets or any other endeavour of homosexuals. “If the social transformation happens and people accept homosexuals and homosexuals accept being homosexual publicly, and if it is accepted as a gender orientation legally then as a university Unam won’t mind conforming with where the societal values are leading them,” Haufiku said. With regard to Namibia this will certainly not be trending in our higher institutions any time soon as it is seen as a taboo.

 

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