Editor's Comment

Opposition must commit support for women

ONE of the best ways in which to attain gender parity in Zambia is getting more women involved in politics – not as mere chanting supporters – but as leaders at various levels.
This opportunity presents itself this year as Zambia goes to the polls on August 11 in general elections to vote in the President and Vice-President, Members of Parliament, mayors and councillors.
Interest groups are generally agreed that women must get more opportunities for leadership roles in all sectors including the political sphere.
It is about time, however, that political players match their word with deed.  All those that agree that Zambia needs more women in political decision-making positions should take the appropriate action to prove their commitment.
Yesterday, President Lungu underscored this need for commitment with a challenge to all political parties.
“I challenge other political parties to publicly state their gender agenda in the August 11 elections and beyond because we need their commitment too for the nation to attain gender equality,” President Lungu said in Lusaka yesterday during the commemoration of International Women’s Day.
Note that he said “other political parties” because the party that he leads, the Patriotic Front (PF), has already taken bold steps to significantly contribute to the collective goal of gender equality.
The PF has resolved that the President’s running-mate will be a woman and that 40 percent of its candidates in the forthcoming elections will be women.  This is for a start in the quest for a 50:50 representation by 2030.
The other political parties, if they are genuinely committed to this goal, should also make similar resolutions to contribute to this cause.  They should walk the talk, as the PF has done.
If they, especially the main opposition parties, did so, Zambia is bound to make a giant leap towards the 50:50 parity after the August 11 elections.
The opposition political parties need not carbon-copy the PF’s resolve, but they could use a format that still ensures that women get an enhanced chance of being a candidate and eventually as a political leader beyond party boundaries.
More women on the ballot papers increases the chances of them being elected.  As it were, there could be situations of women contesting against fellow women.  This guarantees the election of a woman.
It should be noted too, that this quest for more women in these leadership positions is not being sought for the sake of it.  Women are being encouraged into these positions because they too are just as capable of leading.
It is also contended that in some cases women perform better than men. This is indeed so and there are a myriad of examples. But it is also said that in some instances women help to deflect friction or conflict within organisations or with others.
Prominent Kitwe lawyer William Nyirenda is one of those that believe so. He said last Monday that Zambia needs more women in positions of responsibility as women are generally more capable of calming situations than men.
With this ever-increasing support for women to get into leadership roles, the challenge is also on them to prove that the confidence people have in them is justifiable.
Often, it is said that women are discouraged from getting into certain roles, particularly political ones, because of intimidation, violence and generally mudslinging and hate speech.
The challenge is for the women to prove that with them in charge at the various levels of leadership they would thoroughly clean politics and confine the low levels of politicking to the dustbins.

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