GENDER FOCUS wth EMELDA MWITWA
SINCE his death on Tuesday, October 28th, different people have said the many things that President Sata meant to them â€“ man of the people, man of action, militant politician with a soft heart for the poor etc.
As the nation mourns our 5th President, Michael Chilufya Sata, I thought it wise to look at his gender-sensitive side and his contributions to the campaign for gender equality as well as equity.
President Sata, will among other things be remembered as a man who tried to promote gender equality and his recognition of women as equal partners in all sectors speaks volumes.
During his short time in power, he tried under difficult circumstances, to bring women into positions of influence.
It was an arduous task because of the low numbers of women parliamentarians and womenâ€™s unequal access to education which sometimes derails the campaign for gender equality.
For instance when President Sata came into office, Zambia had just produced 17 female members of Parliament in the preceding tripartite elections.
With women occupying only 11.5 percent of the seats in the National Assembly, President Sata had to strive, in an attempt to create gender balance in government, and through the appointments of deputy ministers and cabinet ministers, he raised womenâ€™s representation to 23 percent.
The turning point came when President Sata, with only five months in office, announced the creation of the Ministry of Gender at celebrations to mark Womenâ€™s Day in the Lusaka showgrounds.
He actually upgraded what used to be the Gender in Division Department (GIDD) under the Vice Presidentâ€™s office to full ministerial status and appointed Inonge Wina as minister in-charge.
What this meant is that issues of gender and development would have their own budget line in the national budget and a minister would be able to influence cabinet decisions in favour of the â€˜gender agenda.â€™
Most importantly, the new Ministry bolstered the capacity of experts to ensure that the gender perspective is mainstreamed (integrated) in all government policies, development programmes and in resource allocation (budgeting).
This is what allows for gender-conscious planning and implementation of policies for the benefit of both, women and men, boys and girls.
Therefore President Sataâ€™s creation of the Ministry of Gender was not about exciting women but was rather meant to address issues of social exclusion on the basis of gender or unequal access of genders to national resources and opportunities.
For instance, there has been an outcry that the Farmer Input Support Programme tilts in favour of male farmers and that poverty affects female-headed households more.
Concerns have also been raised on the gender imbalance in educational attainment and access to credit facilities among others.
These are the people that President Sata must have had in mind when he created the Ministry of Gender â€“ the poor, marginalised, disadvantaged and down-trodden.
And going forward, I hope that our future President will maintain this ministry to ensure continuity of the campaign for social justice across gender.
Gender equality is an important ingredient for sustainable development because when one gender is socially excluded, the reversal of socio-economic gains is imminent.
I therefore give kudos to the late President Sata on his creation of the Ministry of Gender and his appointment of women to decision-making positions.
Apparently, alive to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which aims for proportionate representation of men and women in decision making positions, he tried to fast-track Zambiaâ€™s attainment of the goals therein.
Mr Sata will also be remembered as the first President of Zambia to appoint a woman, Stella Libongani, to the office of Inspector General of Police.
He has also left in office women at the helm of the Drug Enforcement Commission (Alita Mbhawe), Anti-Corruption Commission (Rosewin Wandi), Electoral Commission of Zambia (Ireen Mambilima) and the Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and her deputy, Florence Mumba, who is also acting.
The recognition of women and giving them an opportunity to serve in positions of influence, whether in public or private sectors can help bring to an end the sex-role stereotypes.
For the young girls, seeing women in high offices, boosts their self-confidence and makes them aim high in life.
President Sata will also be remembered for his commitment to creating an environment for equal access to education for everyone.
â€œLet us all take an active role in ensuring that girls and boys, who are our future leaders, grow up knowing that they are equal beings and that they have a role to play in the development of our great nation,â€ the President said on Womenâ€™s Day on March 8, 2012.
On that day, he declared his commitment to the implementation of the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act and domestication of international instruments aimed at ending child abuse and discrimination of women.
And on Womenâ€™s Day last March, President Sata directed the ministries of Lands and Gender to allocate more land to women for entrepreneurial purposes.
Further to this, it was under the leadership of Mr Sata that the Ministry of Gender started preparing the gender equality bill and the process is still on-going.
May our future leaders build on President Sataâ€™s contributions to the â€˜gender agenda.â€™ My sincere condolences to the first family and the nation at large on President Sataâ€™s demise.
Find below, reactions to last week articles titled â€œFood scavenging at funerals at worst.â€
I would like to commend you on the article published in the Daily Mail dated October 30, 2014 concerning food scrambles at funeral houses. You are 100 percent right – nowadays even church members are also culprits of such behavior.
Inviting mourners to the funeral will notÂ help, instead it will just create further problems especially that we are Africans and we need to maintain our culture and tradition. I suggest that bereaved families must identify people who can help them oversee activities of food-handlers to ensure fair distribution of food to family members.
I think some people have no morals and poverty is just used as scape goat. People who misbehave at funerals have no respect for the dead and they are usually not touched by the funeral.
I remember a long time ago, funerals were sacred and children had no business at the funeral house.
I lost my mum on 5 October 2014, and I experienced what you described in your article. When mum died, being the first born in the family, I hosted the funeralÂ at myÂ house in ChikolaÂ here in Chingola.
During the funeral, I never ate from my house, not because I did not want to, but because I was not served. It took my wife to rebuke the people who were serving for me to be able to eat and that was after we had buried.
The people who were supposed to console us were busy with the programme of food, shortage of salt and so on.Â May God alone help us.
Another reader writes:
Reading your timely article made me feel sad at some point. What you have observed is very true. Our Ubuntu fabric that held families together is diminishing at a very fast rate.
There is a serious erosion of the moral fibre in our communities.
Last year, I attended a funeral in Kitwe where a group of youths exchanged punches over nshima.
One muscular youth who seemed to have won the battle, was suddenly lynched by others. But, whilst punches and kicks were landing on him, he was resistant to pain and continued eating the food. I stood watching in disbelief.
And recently, whilst attending the funeral of my nephew in Mufulira, scores of mourners from another funeral within the neighbourhood came and looted food that was meant for our mourners.
In defending their barbaric action, one of them said, â€œMalilo niku lilanaâ€ (mourning with the bereaved is a human virtue). If this is true, then we expected our fellow mourners to come in peace.
Therefore, your observations are correct and without exaggeration. I just hope that something will be done in order to remind the general populace about how fast the spirit of Ubuntu is diminishing.
Perhaps community programmes should be introduced. If all fails, whether impoverished or not, we shall all resort to the use of invitation cards as a control measure. It is better to go for this bitter choice than to lose both your beloved and your food.
And Namucana Musiwa writes:
Great article in todayâ€™s (October 30) Zambia Daily Mail. I was at a funeral in Kaunda Square Stage 2, two days ago. When we returned from the cemetery, a big number of people came from the bars across the road and queued for food. Some of them were even on the verge of fighting. I could not believe it.
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GENDER FOCUS wth EMELDA MWITWA