It’s daybreak for Zambian women

AS ZAMBIA celebrates International Women’s Day, it is time for the country to take stock of progress so far made in improving the status of women.
A lot has been achieved world over and Zambia is a perfect example of Government’s desire to empower women and uplift their status since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, which flagged 12 key areas where urgent action was needed to ensure greater equality and opportunities for women and men, girls and boys.
The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing marked a significant turning point for the global agenda for gender equality which also laid out concrete ways for countries to bring about change.
The Zambian government has done a lot in domesticating the outcomes of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action which include enacting gender equality laws and policies such as the Gender Equity and Equality Law, National Gender Policy, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Act and revised Penal Code to deal with gender discrimination.
Government has also come up with the fast-track courts and victim support units as means of dealing with GBV.
The amended 2016 Constitution has various clauses on gender equality issues, beginning with the preamble.
There has been, for example, a significant increase in the number of women in decision-making positions.
Late President Michael Sata will be remembered for his affirmative action that saw appointments of the first female police Inspector General of Police, the first female Drug Enforcement Commissioner and first female Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda.
President Edgar Lungu took the affirmative action a notch higher by appointing the first female Vice-President, Inonge Wina, in the country’s history.
He has equally appointed several women in other positions of influence.
They include current Chief Justice Irene Mambilima and Director of Public Prosecutions Lillian Siyuni. There are many other women serving in various institutions in senior positions.
These steps speak not only to the resolutions of the Beijing conference, but are also in line with the SADC protocol, which seeks to increase participation of women in decision-making.
Political parties, too, have also made strides towards achieving this goal.
Other notable improvements have been an increase in girl-child education.
The establishment of girls’ technical secondary schools in almost every province is one example of increasing the number of women taking up science and technology careers.
Apart from enacting gender equality laws and policies, the appointment of women into key government positions at executive, legislature and judiciary has been actualised in a very big way.
Government has further created an enabling environment for women’s participation in national development.
Therefore, women in Zambia have every reason to commemorate the International Women’s Day given the milestones achieved in terms of their empowerment and gender equality.
Despite the whole litany of unprecedented achievements, more still needs to be done, and can be done.
These include the full implementation of these progressive laws such as the Gender Equity and Equality law, which mentions the formulation of a Gender Commission, which has full powers and mandate to enforce institutions to mainstream gender equality.
But, unfortunately, this commission has not been put in place since the law was enacted in 2015.
That said, women should not feel self-pity but should instead take it upon themselves in ensuring that they participate in the fulfilment of their desires.
Instead of fighting one another or pulling each other down, they should hold arms and fight for their collective good.
For instance, 2021, being a year for general elections, offers women an opportunity to contest elections at all levels – ward, parliamentary and presidential.
The sky is the limit for women.