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About gender equality

Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) says democracy and good governance should start from political parties for it to be entrenched at national level.

Executive director Leah Mitaba says the UPND has set the tone for other opposition parties to follow as the country prepares for August 12, 2021 general elections.

“However, we are drawn aback by the low numbers of women that were elected into the NMC. Having only 18 women out of the 70 NMC members is a serious drawback to promoting gender equality and the participation of women in politics,” she says.

Mitaba said evidently, UPND had failed to meet even the minimum 30 per cent representation of women in its NMC by settling for less than 26 per cent of women.

Entrenching gender equality is a necessity if our country is to smoothen the road to sustainable development. We cannot continue to treat the over 51 per cent of our population as bystanders – who should only receive what their menfolk decides!

It’s unfortunate that gains in gender equality made since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action have been under almost universal pressure, especially last year, whether in education, health, income generation, representation of women or safety and security. It is regrettable that affirmative action is pronounced more in words than action. We can do better as a country to engender gender equality. Evidently it will take more than just working documents, pronouncements but political will and leadership.

Recently, the UN Women warned that regressions in gender equality threaten the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and need a dedicated, bold effort that builds on “our breakthroughs, our shortcomings and lessons learnt”.

In a lecture on Substantive gender equality: breakthrough change that lasts, on August 1, 2019, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka weighed in on the state of the world, noting that, “The world today is certainly not an easy global environment in which to be fostering gender equality. If we were to convene today in the same way as countries did in Beijing almost 25 years ago, we would not get 189 countries agreeing to entrench gender equality. As a result, we are not opening that document for anyone to touch. The risks are just too high. We also know that just as we have these challenges and pushback, we also are seeing progress – with women and an increasing number of men pushing back against the pushback.”

But the National Democratic Institute stresses “that women’s engagement is crucial and it is important to recognise that women are not a homogeneous group. Depending on whether women are young or older, educated or uneducated, live in rural or urban areas, they have very different life experiences that lead to different priorities and needs. Moreover, not every woman elected to parliament or another legislative body will place women’s issues or rights at the forefront of her own agenda. Clearly, women’s representation is not the only factor, but it is a critical factor for the development of inclusive, responsive, and transparent democracies. So, why women in politics? The positive impact of women in politics is undeniable.”

Kofi Annan noted, “study after study has taught us, there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity or to reduce child and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation.”

And Madeleine Albright stated that, “the world is wasting a precious resource in the dramatic under-representation of women in leadership positions, often resulting in the exclusion of women’s talents and skills in political life.”

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