MWAPE MWENYA, Lusaka
ZAMBIA, like other sovereign states, is a signatory to international treaties that promote gender equality, women empowerment and the fight against violence.
However, women empowerment stands out to be a compelling factor aimed at ending poverty, child marriages and gender-based violence.
It is said that when you empower a woman, you empower the entire nation as it is believed women are good managers.
Accordingly, the Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP) has, among other things, highlighted economic diversification, job creation; reduced developmental inequalities and enhanced human development as a basis for an inclusive economy.
For Zambia to attain a prosperous middle-income status by 2030, it is cardinal for men, women and the youth to work towards achieving targeted goals in the SNDP.
It is against this background that Government embarked on a robust women empowerment programme targeting vulnerable but viable communities countrywide.
In Kalulushi, 11 women clubs out of the targeted 15 recently received K5,000 each as start-up capital.
Among the women’s clubs which benefitted include Natwime Tubombe, Twibukishe Chembe, Twasumina Tafimbwa Lubilo and Panono Panono.
Tafimbwa Lubilo Women Club chairperson Agness Chungu says the club plans to engage in chicken rearing.
“Government should consider procuring us machines and make available necessary resources to allow us to venture into lucrative businesses.
“We are looking at rearing broiler chickens after which we will use the profit to start another business to sustain our lives,” she says.
Ms Chungu praised Government for empowering women in the area especially that the money given to the clubs is a donation.
“We will work hard to ensure this money does not go to waste as this is the only Government that has been considerate to women. We are very grateful to President Lungu and his administration for the gesture,” she said.
Ms Chungu advises fellow women not to always rely on their partners for sustainable livelihood as this is what makes some men to be abusive.
“Women should not be lazy. Government is doing its part, let us also do our part by working hard. Our clubs should not wait for handouts because that is a recipe for laziness; hard work pays off,” she says.
Ministry of Gender Permanent Secretary Auxillia Ponga, who represented Minister of Gender Victoria Kalima during the handover of cheques, implored women to carefully contemplate on the type of businesses to venture into.
Dr Ponga says women should work hard and use the profit to pay for their children’s school fees and take care of the basic needs.
And Ms Kalima, who was in Kasenengwa and Chipangali constituencies in Eastern Province recently, said Government will not leave women behind in fostering development.
The minister says President Edgar Lungu and his administration have prioritised women empowerment and are working tirelessly to uplift the lives of women and children in communities.
“The empowerment of women cannot be overemphasised. Clubs are a useful mechanism not only to manage membership, but also to work on the needs and interests of particular groups of people in society,” she says.
She is optimistic with the right skills and available resources; women can make informed decisions about their choices and exercise their right to participate in the development of the country.
Ms Kalima implored women to be prudent in the manner they utilise funds and avoid diverting the grants to unnecessary needs such as make-up and clothes.
The minister says gender imbalances can only be addressed if women become equal partners to men.
She observes that President Lungu, who is the champion for He-For-She campaign, has created an enabling environment for both men and women to engage in various economic empowerment programmes.
In Kasenengwa and Chipangali, each of the 72 women’s clubs received grants of K5,000, amounting to K360,000.
“Which government has ever taken care of its people in the manner we are doing? Let us give credit where it is due and I can assure you by this time next year, our communities will never be the same as they would have improved for the better,” Zikomo Women Club chairperson Tikambezi Banda said.
Ms Banda, who leads a group of 17 women, said her team intends to venture into chicken and goat rearing.
The business will not only create employment for the women, but youths, who are the majority in the area.
Women empowerment is an important aspect for national development as the current population index indicates that 50.8 percent of the over 16 million Zambians are women.