HENRY SINYANGWE and KABWE KAPAMPA, Kasama
WOMEN world over are usually sidelined owing to various shortcomings such as financial, educational and social factors.
In the case of Zambia, the picture, though better than in the past owing to Government’s commitment to promote the women, more needs to be done for women to have an equal footing with men.
The media being the fourth estate has a critical role to play in ensuring that such stereotypes are reversed so that the women are not portrayed negatively.
The media’s participation in changing the status quo towards the perception of women is critical in the realisation of a just, fair and human society.
And to remedy the current situation, the Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) has been prompted to engage various media organisations in Northern Province and the country at large to remind the media to cover women in a positive light so that the country can achieve the 50 percent representation of women in the political leadership and other decision-making positions of the nation.
The ZNWL observes that engagement of media houses is critical in encouraging them to structure their news reports in a manner that will promote and encourage women to take up the mantle and rise to the challenge of political leadership.
ZNWL Northern Province coordinator Christine Chipimo said there is need to promote more women to get to political leadership and other decision-making positions.
“The women have been left behind for a long time and therefore there is need for the media to ensure that they promote women that have the ability to lead and decide on behalf of the masses,” Ms Chipimo said.
“Further, the world political history is rich with great female leaders in many countries who have made very positive impact on the well-being of their societies,’’ adds Ms Chipimo.
“And the successful political history of these leaders is there in the annals of history books… there is no doubt that women make good leaders. You can talk of Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, India’s Indira Ghandi, Ann Sun Suki of Myanmar, and even the current Teresa May and Angela Merkel in Europe’s economic powers of England and Germany respectively,” Ms Chipimo said.
“There is, therefore, no valid reason on the face of the earth to demonise and deny women of their God-given rights to help in the governance of the nation, politically or otherwise,’’ she adds.
However, Ms Chipimo praised the Government of President Edgar Lungu for implementing serious strides in promoting and supporting the welfare of women in Zambia.
She is happy that Government is listening to the cries of the women by putting them in various decision-making positions.
Ms Chipimo states that President Lungu has defied all odds by appointing a woman of substance, Inonge Wina, as the first female republican Vice- President.
“We are very proud as a nation to note that we have a first female Vice-President in Zambia, following in the footsteps of our gracious neighbours like Zimbabwe and Malawi, who went through the rule of Grace Mujuru and Joyce Banda as veeps, respectively,’’ says Ms Chipimo.
“The republican Vice-President and chief executive officers (CEOs) in various government and private institutions like Margaret Mwanakatwe at Ministry of Finance, Mizinga Melu, now at Barclays, after many years at Standard Chartered Bank, and the late Dr Evelyn Nguleka, who was at the helm of Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), are some of the outstanding women who have made good leaders,’’ she says.
“Our own renowned female legal brain, Irene Mambilila – now Zambia’s Chief Justice heading the country’s supreme jurisprudence – the brilliant scientist Professor Nkandu Luo at the Ministry of Higher Education are some of the women that have ‘conquered the world’ in their own fields,’’ adds Ms Chipimo.
She says the women’s lobby is grateful that the Head of State has been making progressive decisions on behalf of the nation, which shows that he is attending to the wishes of women in the nation.
Ms Chipimo implored the media to ensure that they get into communities and get the views of the women that have the potential to lead.
“We are determined to carry the media along as we forge ahead and fight for the rights of the women that have been stigmatised, marginalised and excluded from occupying various decision making positions,” Ms Chipimo said.
She concludes that women must be given a chance to excel in different fields in life.
During the media engagement, facilitator Hebert Macha urged the media to improve the visibility of women in their daily news reports.
He says Zambia has a sad situation in terms of promoting the affairs of women.
“A classic example is when we have elections in this country. Collected data and authentic statistics show that women are usually left out whenever there is an election in preference for the male aspiring candidates owing to various perceived shortcomings,’’ says Mr Macha.
He adds that adequate coverage of potential candidates by various media houses is not sufficient in the promotion of women’s rights.
Mr Macha says less than 15 percent of women have received media coverage, according to a research that was carried out prior to the 2016 general elections.
“Currently, out of 1,624 councillors, only 126 are women, six council chairpersons and only two executive mayors. And out of the 164 parliamentary seats, only 26 are elected members of whom three are nominated,” he says.
“There is need to improve the visibility of women in the various media to ensure that they take up various decision-making positions because they have the intellectual capacity to do so,” he says.
Mr Macha has observed that women are financially handicapped and are usually outplayed by men and therefore are disadvantaged during campaigns and when luring voters.
He says the men have access to high-paying careers and jobs, and that they control the financial world, which is a fact.
“Even when you look at the Forbes list of the top 10 richest persons in the world, you will find that there are no women there, a very sad situation,’’ says Mr Macha.
Men are more involved in national and higher level politics while women are involved at local level in activities linked to domestic roles,” he says.
“Do not discriminate women in your reporting but ensure that all the stories that are published are factual and correct,” Mr Macha said.
And various reporters that attended the training committed themselves to ensuring that they promote women affairs in their respective communities.
The media houses that attended the meeting included the government-owned Zambia National Information Services (ZANIS), Kasama’s Radio Mano and Radio Lutanda, Mpulungu’s Radio Walamo and Radio Luswepo from Mbala district.
All that remains is for the concerted efforts in ensuring that various stakeholders take interest in women’s affairs.
HENRY SINYANGWE and KABWE KAPAMPA, Kasama