PRISCILLA MWILA, Lusaka
EUROPEAN Union (EU) Head of Governance and Social Sectors Fabienne Van den Eede says her organisation is optimistic that Zambia will achieve gender equality and equity with concerted efforts from various stakeholders.
Ms Van den Eede said EUâ€™s partnership with the Non-Governmental Organisation Co-ordinating Council (NGOCC) is a key step in reaching out to the vulnerable people in rural areas and ensuring that both men and women are given equal opportunities to better their lives.
She said poverty continues to carry a femaleâ€™s face, a situation that can only change if government, the women movement and other stakeholders work together to improve the livelihoods of women and girls, especially in rural areas.
Ms Van den Eede said this at the women empowerment grant award ceremony of NGOCC members and launch of the implementation of the EU supported projects.
â€œI am happy to be witnessing this ceremony as I know it will go a long way in helping to empower women and girls especially in rural areas. Civil society organisations have the obligation to keep government accountable and ensure that policies that protect the vulnerable are in place to ensure that both men and women are given equal opportunities,â€ she said.
Ms Van den Eede said her organisation looks forward to see the impact of the grants on the targeted people.
And NGOCC executive director Engwase Mwale said women, especially in rural areas, need to be economically empowered for Zambia to attain equality and equity.
Ms Mwale called on other co-operating partners to come on board and accelerate the efforts towards women empowerment and gender equality.
â€œThe EU was gracious enough to identify NGOCC and the work that we do in improving livelihoods for women especially in rural areas. We look forward to building up on the efforts that we have been implementing for 32 years.Â We shall ensure that the money is put to good use in our advocacy for gender equality and equity,â€ she said
Meanwhile, Dorothy Ndhlovu, Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) regional co-ordinator for Eastern Province said the marginalisation of women and girls has negatively affected their contributions to economic development.
Ms Ndhlovu commended the EU for coming to the aid of women and girls in rural areas, a move she described as a milestone in the attainment of gender equality and equity.
PRISCILLA MWILA, Lusaka