GENDER FOCUS with EMELDA MWITWA
I GIVE kudos to President Edgar Lungu for giving us a female Vice-President, the first one in the history of Zambia, one Inonge Wina.
My first reaction to the watershed appointment was that, we are getting close to having a woman President because Zambian women have for a long time been ready, save for the inhibiting cultural landscape.
Well, this is one appointment Ms Wina has earned and many people saw it coming before the State House swearing-in ceremony.
When President Lungu was sworn-in as sixth President of the Republic of Zambia, speculations started on social media on what Cabinet would look like, and many people felt Ms Wina would be Vice-President.
Actually speculations about Ms Wina being the probable candidate for vice-presidency if the Patriotic Front (PF) won the January 20 presidential election started during the campaign period.
And for sure when cabinet was announced, Ms Wina was first to take oath as Vice-President of Zambia. The question is why is it that some people could predict Ms Winaâ€™s appointment?
I think Ms Wina, who has been at the helm of the Ministry of Gender and Child Development since its creation in March 2012, earned her appointment. It was not about appeasing the womenâ€™s movement.
She has displayed leadership traits and courageously so, and I am sure it was not a sympathetic appointment for the marginalised gender.
At the same time, Ms Winaâ€™s gender did not discourage President Lungu from considering the Nalolo member of Parliament for appointment to the office that makes her leader of Government business in Parliament.
I say so because qualified women are most of the times side-lined purely on account of gender. Thatâ€™s why I salute the President for this appointment and I hope he would try to create gender balance in the remaining appointments.
Let us also salute Ms Wina for her well-deserved appointment as second in-command in the Lungu-led government.
This is one woman with a proven track record and will obviously inspire women/girls to aim high regardless of circumstances.
Ms Wina is an avid campaigner for gender equality, who once served as board chairperson of the Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council.
When she came on the political scene, she contested the Nalolo parliamentary seat in 2011 which she won for the PF.
It is this track record that earned her the appointment of Minister of Gender when the late President Sata upgraded the Gender in Division Department to full ministerial status.
Ms Wina was thus transferred in the same capacity from the Ministry of Community Development to lead the newly created ministry.
Her immediate task was to start implementing the Anti Gender-Based Violence Act and this process is on-going with the creation of shelters for survivors of gender-based violence.
Under the leadership of Ms Wina, the Ministry of Gender has drafted the Gender Equality Bill which has since been submitted to cabinet for consideration.
From the information that I have gathered, the bill was submitted to cabinet at the end of the year.
If enacted, this is one law which would fast-track the process of social justice and socio-economic development.
Coming back to why people predicted Ms Winaâ€™s appointment – she demonstrated leadership especially in her party in which she holds the position of national chairperson.
Ms Winaâ€™s name will go down in the annuals of history as a woman who saved the PF from disintegration when they were embroiled in succession disputes after the death of President Sata.
Had it not been for her, the PF general conference held in Kabwe last December, would have been a flop and the party would have had no candidate in the January 20 presidential election.
President Lungu actually acknowledged the unifying role that Ms Wina played to salvage the party from succession disputes in the run-up to the elections.
In the Presidentâ€™s words at the swearing-in ceremony, Ms Wina is a woman of courage, a solid person who stood up for the party when they faced possible disintegration and going into oblivion.
Itâ€™s without doubt that being a unifier and woman of substance that she is, Ms Wina will discharge her function ofÂ leader of Government business in Parliament with due diligence.
She is also likely to do well as Vice-President and hopefully inspire women and girls alike to be assertive.
We live in a patriarchal society fraught with cultural beliefs and practices that hinder women from climbing ladders in society.
Seeing a woman rise to the position of Vice-President will also help erode the sex-role stereo-types that confine women to the low echelons of society.
Obviously with Ms Wina at the top and more women being appointed in decision-making positions, our little girls will be inspired to go to school and become what they want.
You cannot underestimate the importance of role models in a personâ€™s life – our young people, both female and male -Â need people they can look up to for inspiration and mentorship.
I hope Mrs Winaâ€™s political achievements will also enthuse the women aspirants to contest presidential, parliamentary and local government elections next year.
By the way, let me also take this opportunity to congratulate the only female presidential candidate in the just-ended election, Edith Nawakwi, the president of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).
She may have come out a distant third with a total of 15,321 votes, but thatâ€™s an improvement and hopefully she would do better in future elections.
Ms Nawakwi is one person who has articulated developmental issues well and demonstrated good leadership qualities when she held different ministerial portfolios â€“ Finance and National Development, Labour and Social Security, Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and Energy and Water Development, as the ministries were called in the MMD regime.
The FDD president polled more votes in last weekâ€™s presidential election than she did in 2011 when she came out in seventh position with 6,833 votes.
Perhaps to increase her chances in future elections, Ms Nawakwi needs to establish party structures across the country and get people in the regions to rally with her dream for Zambia.
Who knows with the ascendance of Ms Wina to the office of Vice-President, we may have a female head of state in future.
Let me end by congratulating another woman of substance, Justice Ireen Mambilima, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia for the manner in which she presided over the just-ended presidential election.
It was a tough and tightly contested election, and Justice Mambilima was on the receiving end of flaring tempers but she managed to pacify the situation.
And for the first time, through Justice Mambilimaâ€™s order, political parties managed to â€œcageâ€ their cadres during that period of vote tallying and verification when the nation was anxiously waiting for results.
I think the women of Zambia have in every field demonstrated that they are equal to the task of anything that a man can do.
email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org.Â Phone 0211- 227793/221364.
GENDER FOCUS with EMELDA MWITWA