CYBER bullying and violence against women continue to be a source of concern in our political space and society as a whole. Many women who have dared to enter the political space can attest to the reality of cyber bullying and violence. President Edgar Lungu’s running mate, Professor Nkandu Luo, is among those that have been victims of this ugly scourge. Her appointment as Presidential running-mate recently also exposed her ridicule at the hands of cyber bullies. “Even my appointment faced criticism but that did not affect me, as a country we need to address and limit cyber bullying and violence against women, statistics of women that applied to be adopted were few compared to men and in some constituencies women did not apply at all,” Prof Luo said. Nkandu Luo represents many other women out there who for their courage and desire to serve the nation have been humiliated and intimidated through cyberbullying. Those who are not thick skinned have prematurely abandoned their political careers and reclined into private space. This is partly why five decades after independence, men have continued to dominate the political space in our country. As rightly noted by Prof Luo, statistics of women who apply to be adopted for political positions continue to be worryingly low. While it is acknowledged that there has been progress over the years, the reality is that there is still so much room for improvement. In a country where women constitute more than 50 percent of the population, it does not make sense to still have men dominate the political sphere and indeed other spheres too.
It is time women came to the fore to make their contributions. Women have a lot to offer to the political space, but can only do so if they are actively involved. It is true that as long as the political space continues to be marred by cyber bullying and violence, we may continue missing out on the much needed and enriching contribution of women. We are, however, comforted by the goodwill exhibited by Government under the leadership of President Lungu. It is under President Lungu’s reign that the country witnessed the appointment of the first ever female vice-president. It is also good that in the forthcoming elections about four political parties have women as presidential running mates. While there may be political will to appoint women to political office, these are appointments that are determined by the number of women who are actively engaged in politics. As it, is appointments are limited by the number of women in politics. Similarly, election of women into political office is limited by the number of female contestants. Just like many provide voters with a wide choice of candidates, we should also have an influx of women into the political space to increase the chances of more women being elected. Women being women, most of them would rather hold on to their dignity than participate in politics, which exposes them to ridicule. This is why there is need to sanitise politics by resolutely addressing cyber bullying and violence among other hindrances to women participation. It is good that the country has made headway in the area of cyber bullying by enacting the cyber security and cybercrimes law.
It is, therefore, hoped that this law will be used effectively to punish perpetrators of cyber bullying. If perpetrators are brought to book, it will deter would-be offenders and hopefully the cases of cyberbullying can be reduced if not eliminated. When that happens, headway would have been made in attracting more and honourable women to politics. The political stage also needs to be sanitised by ridding it of violence and corruption. Most women fail to fit in because of these vices. On this one, the responsibility lies squarely on the political parties to ensure that they inculcate a culture of integrity and respect in their members. Politics should be an honourable engagement which does not derogate from one’s dignity. For politics to be honourable, it calls for those engaged in it to be honourable in their dealings, failure to which politics will continue to scare away those with great ideas and yet they have no courage to wade through its muddy waters. The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.