All the information below is provided by Pink Pangea community members based on their experiences abroad. Add your voice!
Feminine Hygienic Products
Erika: Feminine hygeine products are relatively easy to come by in Namibia. Most supermarkets have a good stock of pads and a small assortment of tampons. While most tampon brands are difficult to find, the majority of supermarkets will have the OB brand.
Erika: Condoms are readily available and often free in Namibia. Because of the high rate of HIV, the government has done a good job of increasing awareness of sexually transmitted diseases. Other types of birth control are also available, though not as popular. Clinics also have antiretroviral treatment and Plan B on hand.
Erika: Most hospitals in larger towns and cities have gynecologists, though I have yet to visit one. They may be difficult to come by in villages and smaller clinics.
Erika: If you are looking to date a local, finding a someone to fulfill that desire should be quite easy–especially if you are a white western woman. However, there are many things you should be aware of before diving headfirst into a relationship.
Namibia has the highest rate of income inequality in the world, and this division is largely split down racial lines. Thus, especially if you are white, men will often try to seduce you both because you are exotic and because they believe you are wealthy. Do not be fooled by some of the romantic words you hear.
Types of Men
Erika: It is difficult to classify “typical” Namibian men, but most that I have encountered have been very forward and aggressive. Namibian men are not afraid to tell you they love you (even if you’ve never met) and ask for your hand in marriage. In general, they are often pretty direct and don’t like to beat around the bush.
Erika: Namibians are very religious and largely disapprove of homosexual relationships.
Erika: Women in Namibia legally have many of the same rights as men, but society still holds different expectations for them. As in many other places around the world, women are often quite educated, but end up giving up their careers in order to be housewives and to take care of the children. Most men still expect women to do all the cooking, cleaning and washing.
Erika: While I do think that things are changing in Namibia, I see that there are still lingering cultural differences between most Namibian women and me. As a westerner, I often pride myself in my ability to act independently of men and believe wholeheartedly that women are just as capable as men. I find many Namibian women appear to be quite accepting of their inferior role in society and are quite submissive to men.
Erika: The mixing of the sexes is socially accepted in Namibia and there are no environments I can think of where either women or men are not allowed.
Perception of American Women
Erika: Most Namibian men and women alike are very curious about me because of my background. Strangers can tell immediately that I am not an Afrikaaner and often ask why in the world I came to Namibia.
Women are quite kind, though often a bit distant. It is easier to form relationships with men, because they are usually more approachable, but this is often because they are seeking more from you–a one-night stand, bragging rights for being with a westerner, a ticket to America…
Erika: All transportation is generally safe in Namibia for all genders. Hitchhiking is often the only way of getting from place to place, since villages are so spread out and urban centers are few and far between. In the case that you hitch a ride, it is a good idea to scope out the passengers in the car.
Are they all men? Are there some women and children as well? Many cars going into more remote areas pick up tons of hitchhikers, so you will likely not be the only person asking for a lift. It is okay to decline a ride if you feel uncomfortable or threatened, though.
I find that the most unsettling thing about transportation in the country is the reckless driving and presence of animals on major highways.
Shady Areas for Women
Erika: Namibia is a very safe country. Of course, one should always be cautious and vigilant when traveling alone or at night, but most women travel to the country without confronting any problems other than petty harassment.
Erika: Namibia is a very hot country–one of the hottest in the world. People here generally dress quite fashionably and there are not many restrictions on women’s clothing. The city of Rundu banned mini-skirts earlier this year, but many people in Namibia still wear them regularly.
While I would not be too concerned about what to wear and what to avoid, I would suggest you think seriously about the unwanted attention you will receive for wearing revealing or seductive clothing.
Tips for Women Travelers in Namibia photo credits by Unsplash.