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Women, fight on, gender equality is achievable

TODAY, women from all walks of life commemorate their day, the International Women’s Day, under the theme ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030, Step it up for gender equality’.
It is a day when they take stock of the gains they have made as they soldier on in the fight for equality.
It is 21 years since the September 1995 famous Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was implemented. The Beijing Declaration is a visionary agenda for the empowerment of women.
Up to date, the declaration is the most comprehensive policy framework and blueprint for action. It is a guide and an inspiration for the realisation of equality and human rights of women and girls globally.
Zambia is a signatory to this declaration and this is what has given the women’s movement the impetus to the fight for equality in Zambia.
The fight by the women has not been in vain as Government has, in response, shown its support by joining their ranks to step up the fight for gender equality.
In stepping up this fight, we can single out this year’s forthcoming elections as one platform on which the women’s movement will score a major success.
From the pronouncements made by some political parties, in particular the Patriotic Front (PF), we are seeing a shift in favour of women in the adoption process.
The PF has stated that this year it will set aside 40 percent of its seats for women to contest. Now, that is a bold statement to make in view of the men, who are eager to contest for positions at all levels in the party.
The recent hint by President Lungu that his running mate would be a woman is another move towards gender parity.
These are not mere pledges but strides that are replete with a resolve to improve women’s representation in positions of decision making.
Zambia may not yet have achieved the envisioned representation but the fact that we have a female vice-president in place, for the first time in Zambia’s 51-year history, is another milestone Government has achieved.
The Constitution, under the Bill of Rights, has expanded the rights of women to include social, economic and cultural rights. This is a positive development.
While commending Government for the above achievements, there are conscious of other areas that we need to work towards, like reducing the high drop-out rate of girls in school.
As the women’s movement seeks to achieve women empowerment and education is one such avenue, it takes away from the gains when girls abandon school.
Education empowers women to stand on their own and to make right decisions. It is generally known that most women who suffer violence at the hands of their husbands remain in the abusive relationships because they have no means of earning a livelihood.
Figures we often come across indicate that violence against women continues to rise. Measures that have been put in place have done little to stem the vice.
Women still remain economically disadvantaged while, at the most, they have to endure heat and rain to fend for their families. They have to work hard to ensure their families have food.
These are some of the contents that should make the agenda for the continued fight for equality.
Government has shown its resolve to fight alongside the women, and the movement should take advantage of this and step up the fight for gender equality.
The battle is far from being won because the ultimate is the 50-50 threshold. We urge the women’s movement to continue working towards that goal as the years tick towards 2030. It is achievable.
We want to urge other political parties to emulate the PF in its resolve to improve the lot of women by not just pledging but working towards parity at all levels.
Happy International Women’s Day to all.