VOTING for women is voting for development, says Non-Governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) acting executive director Monica Kanjimana.
During a breakfast meeting with selected female candidates and media personnel, Kanjimana, in a speech read for her by NGOCC head communication, advocacy and networking Whitney Mulobela, said it was a fact that over the years women had remained discriminated from both participating and benefiting from various development processes of the country.
She said because of the entrenched patriarchy within societies, women had remained on the periphery of the development.
Kanjimana said it was against this background that NGOCC had been advocating increased participation of women in decision-making and particularly in politics.
“We however remain deeply concerned that society still has a bias towards the male gender as evidenced in the adoption process for the August 12 elections. While this year’s elections provided an opportunity for the country to narrow the gender gap, the country has yet again missed the golden chance,” she said. “An analysis of the adoptions in all the political parties reveals the lack of political will to adopt more women as councillors and indeed as members of parliament.”
Kanjimana said it was against this background that society and the electorates should support the few women that were adopted to run as councillors and members of parliament.
“Voting for women is voting for development. As we have stated before, sustainable development will remain a pipe dream for as long as there is gender inequality. Women understand the challenges that communities face and provide the transformative leadership required for development,” she said.
And Kanjimana said NGOCC was sad to note the increased incidences of political violence across the country.
She said NGOCC was particularly concerned about violence that was targeted at women candidates.
“We have also continued to witness the rise in cyber bullying against female candidates. We therefore condemn all forms of violence and appeal to all the political party leaders to commit to peaceful elections before, during and after the August 12 elections,” she said. “Peace remains an important pre-requisite for development. It is a truism that any disturbance in peace will without doubt negatively affect the most vulnerable in society who are the women and the children.”
Kanjimana said the meeting had been organised to provide a platform for aspiring candidates to discuss challenges that women were facing ahead of the election.
“As we all might be aware the 2021 elections are being held under very difficult circumstances due to the Coronavirus, the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also brought with it unique challenges to the candidates and indeed female aspiring candidates. This is also despite the lack of resources that women face to effectively campaign and canvass for votes,” she said.
Kanjimana said the platform was meant to remind the media on the need for positive portrayal of women as the campaigns heat up in the next few days.
“We need to work together to ensure that there is positive portrayal of women,” she said.
Kanjimana called upon all political leaders to commit themselves to a violence free election.
“We are aware that sometimes the expectations are high from political players on the role of civil society organisations like ours during this election. As a non-political organisation, we aspire to remain apolitical and avoid any form of political discourse that may drag us into partisan politics. We however remain committed to play our part as part of the civil society to facilitate peaceful elections,” she said.
Kanjimana said in that endeavour, NGOCC was part of the Coalition for Peaceful Campaign that was promoting peaceful election before, during, and after the elections.
“Together with the Church mother bodies and the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID), NGOCC is undertaking a number of activities to contribute to peaceful elections,” said Kanjimana.