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NGOCC urges supporting the few adopted women

THE Non-Governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) says from the adoptions so far announced especially by the major political parties, it is sad that there is still no political will among political party leaders to bridge the gender inequality gap between women and men in decision making positions, especially political positions.

NGOCC board chairperson Mary Mulenga says, “Our preliminary analysis of the adoptions shows that only the Socialist Party (SP) seems set to meet the minimum threshold with about 68 females adopted as parliamentary candidates.”

She has since called upon the women to support the few women that have been adopted.

During a briefing on the elections and the adoption process by political parties, Mulenga also said Zambians were not interested in name calling and the usual malicious campaigns that characterise politics in Zambia.

Mulenga said an analysis of the adoptions so far by the major political parties reveals a rather very sad trend where women continue to be discriminated.

She said on Thursday, August 12, 2021 Zambia goes to the polls to elect a president, members of parliament, council chairpersons, mayors and councillors.

She said elections were part of the democratic culture through which citizens participate in the governance of their country.

Mulenga said participatory democracy was primarily concerned with ensuring that citizens are afforded an opportunity to participate or otherwise be involved in decision making on matters that affect their lives.

“From the adoptions so far announced especially by the major political parties, it is sad to note that there is still no political will among our political party leaders to bridge the gender inequality gaps between women and men in decision making positions, especially political positions. We have noted how women have been systematically left out to run as both councillors and members of parliament,” she said.

She said according to provisional data, an overwhelming number of women expressed interest in contesting as members of parliament across the country on the different political parties.

Mulenga said apart from the already inbuilt encumbrances, such as the Grade 12 certificate, the ongoing adoption process had yet again confirmed the entrenched patriarchy and systemic discrimination of women from participating in the forthcoming elections.

She said the Zambian Constitution guarantees the rights for all citizen’s participation in the governance of the country.

Mulenga said the Constitution guarantees the right for citizens, women and men, to vote and also to be voted for in an election without any form of discrimination.

She said the NGOCC and the women’s movement continued to witness the systematic discrimination of women from participating in the governance of their country.

“While the 2021 elections provide an opportunity to narrow the gender gaps with regard to women’s participation, the ensuing trends that we are witnessing are very concerning. We do not want to speak in abstract,” Mulenga said. “Our preliminary analysis of the adoptions shows that only the Socialist Party (SP) seems set to meet the minimum threshold with about 68 females adopted as Parliamentary candidates. With regard the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) out of the announced 98 candidates only eleven women (11.2 per cent) have been adopted despite the fact that a number of women applied according to the information that we have gathered. We even have a case in Solwezi for instance where a woman scored the highest but was not adopted. For the ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF), out of the 96 so far announced only 17 females (17.7 per cent) have so far been adopted despite the fact that women had applied in almost all the constituencies. How can a country that has recorded 53 per cent registered women voters have less than 18 per cent adoptions? This is totally unacceptable. We cannot continue on this trend.”

Mulenga said the scenario was unacceptable and something must be done by the leaders of political parties.

She said the country was again going to miss an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to gender equality.

“It is high time that our leaders began to walk the talk. We demand equal representation of both men and women in decision making positions – at parliamentary and local government level. Why should we the women continue to be discriminated in this manner? This is very, very sad and unfortunate,” she said.

Mulenga called upon the women to support the few women that have been adopted.

On the campaign period and political violence, Mulenga said according to the electoral cycle, the campaign period had started.

“It is our expectations that the political parties will conduct issue based campaigns. Zambians are not interested in name calling and indeed the usual malicious campaigns that characterise our politics in Zambia. The women of this country and the general citizenry are anxious to hear how the high poverty levels will be reduced, how the high cost of living will be arrested,” she said.

Mulenga urged the Zambia Police to ensure fair implementation of the public order Act so that all political parties can reach out to the electorates within the framework of the new normal given the COVID -19 guidelines.

“We also appeal to you the media, especially the public media to accord all the political players equal coverage. Additionally, we appeal to you the media to be very sensitive and cautious in the way you churn out your stories and carry out your coverage. Careless media reporting has the potential to ignite unnecessary tension which can escalate into violence,” she said. “As the women’s movement we have consistently spoken about and have been deeply concerned about the increased cases of political violence. It was very sad to witness the recent incidences of intraparty violence that occurred in full view of the police at the PF secretariat where even journalists were injured. It is our expectation that the leaders of all political parties – ruling party and the opposition – will prevail over their political cadres to stop the political violence in the run up to the August elections.”

And Mulenga said NGOCC and the women’s movement would be deploying election observers to monitor the elections from a gender perspective.

She said the importance of free, fair and credible elections was not only important for Zambia’s democracy but national development.

Mulenga reiterated the need for legal policy reforms that would enhance women’s participation in politics.

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