ARTHUR MWANSA, Lusaka
ZAMBIANS have every reason to end the year on a joyous note, filled with merriment. This is because of some major advances that have been made towards the achievement of gender equality and the realisation of rights for women and girls.
This is more reason why President Lungu took time to celebrate Christmas with the sick and orphaned children, where he showered them with parental love, leaving them overwhelmed by his humility.
During the celebrations the President encouraged the Catholic sisters at Mother Theresa Missionaries of Charity home to remain steadfast as they care for the needy.
Among the countryâ€™s breakthroughs, is the launch of the â€˜HeforSheâ€™ campaign, â€˜Good Husbandâ€™ crusade and Governmentâ€™s commitment in appointing women in decision making positions.
Early during the year, President Lungu launched the â€œHeforSheâ€ gender campaign with a call for men to allow women to freely participate in the social, economic and political development of the country.
He observed that leaving girls and women behind in social and economic development will hinder national development.
â€œI joined this fight because we are equal under the banner of â€˜One Zambia, One Nationâ€™â€¦men from all walks of life should join in the HeForShe campaign,â€ President Lungu said.
The Zambia Women Parliamentarians Caucus (ZWPC) strategic plan for 2014-2016 has also continued to exert influence on Government and political processes by helping shape the agenda and provide information on advocacy on issues relating to women and girls.
Zambia has also launched a campaign dubbed â€˜Good Husband campaignâ€™ in a bid to include men in the fight against gender-based violence (GBV). â€˜Good Husband Campaignâ€™ is striving to bring about change among men and boys by promoting behaviours, attitudes and practices that would embrace peace, care, support and love for the families, especially women folk.
The Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) indicates that over 50 percent of women interviewed reported experiencing some form of GBV, while over 15 percent reporting sexual violence in an intimate partner relationship. The high prevalence of GBV in Zambia makes it both a challenging and critical topic for programming.
UN Joint Programme on GBV is another initiative which has been developed to support Government under Ministry of Gender in implementing the support for institutional transformation to facilitate the implementation of the countryâ€™s Anti-GBV Act. The goal of the Joint Programme is to contribute to the reduction of GBV in Zambia
In June this year, the country also won the African Union Gender Equality Award at the 25th Ordinary Summit of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government held in Johannesburg.
President Lungu is satisfied with the outcome of the summit and was happy that the union had recognised Zambia as a pioneer of gender equality in Africa.
The President is determined to implement the resolution to confine the hand-hoe to the museum so that it could be replaced by mechanised tillers and not only improve womenâ€™s productivity in agriculture but make them more productive.
Zambia also hosted the First African Girlsâ€™ Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa from November 26 to 27 in Lusaka. The aim was to accelerate the countryâ€™s effort in the fight against child marriage through sharing of experiences with other AU member states.
The summit highlighted significant problems affecting the girl child in Africa, as well as engendering the change that needs to happen to prevent the continuous violation of the rights of children.
Zambia has also won the African Union Gender Equality Award at the 25th AU Summit. South African President Jacob Zuma presented the award to Zambiaâ€™s Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission Ambassador Susan Sikaneta, who in turn handed the award to President Lungu.
Receiving the prestigious award, President Lungu said the accolade will give him impetus to appoint more women to decision-making positions and promote gender equality in Zambia.
In a related development, the United Nations (UN) Women have chosen President Lungu to be key focal person in the fight against early marriages in Zambia. The UN agency is impressed with Zambiaâ€™s fight against early marriages.
Accolades to the Zambian Non-Governmental Organisation Coordination Council (NGOCC), which is an offshoot of the UNâ€™s Decade for Women (1976-1985)NGOCC, is the focal point for Zambian womenâ€™s movement for advocacy of the implementation of gender policies and human rights instruments (national, regional and international).
ARTHUR MWANSA, Lusaka