FINNISH Ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen says women’s political participation is not only a human right but that it makes perfect economic and social sense.
And Zambia Women Parliamentary Caucus secretary Moono Lubezhi says Zambia has a lot to do to enhance women representation in all spheres of life.
Ambassador Olkkonen said when he officiated at the closing ceremony of the exhibition ‘110 years of women’s suffrage, voices and action in Finland’ at the Lusaka National Museum on Monday evening, that Finland had made conscious and determined efforts to develop democracy and gender equality throughout its history.
On December 6, 1917, Finland became an independent State but even before that, 10 years earlier in 1907, “Finnish women became the first in the world to exercise full political rights, including the right to stand for election.”
“Women’s political participation is not only a human right; it makes perfect economic and social sense. If we do not include the full potential of half of the population and in many cases more than half, how can we expect development to happen, being social or economic?” Ambassador Olkkonen said.
And quoting Finnish President Sauli Niinistӧ, Ambassador Olkkonen reiterated that: “Gender equality is the very foundation of our nation. To put it simply, Finland would not have become the country it is today without it.”
He added that “a great deal” had been achieved in the last 100 years of Finnish independence.
“This year is a vantage point from which we Finns can look both forward and back. We wish to emphasise Finland’s strengths such as equality and democracy and as such, the exhibition is the perfect way to illustrate our values and history,” noted Ambassador Olkkonen.
The exhibition was open to the public from October, 22 to October, 30.
At the same event, Lubezhi, who is also Namwala UPND member of parliament, said: “We look forward to a Zambia where out of 156 seats in Parliament, at least if we can reach 75 seats for women it will be better. That way we’ll say we are on the right track. But really speaking as a woman, we need to do a lot to enhance women representation in all spheres of life.”
Notable people present included Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board chairperson and executive director Sarah Longwe and Engwase Mwale, respectively, Katuba UPND member of parliament Patricia Mwashingwele, Brenda Tambatamba (Kasempa UPND), Malungo Chisangano (Gwembe UPND) and Chushi Kasanda (Chisamba UPND), among others.