Editor's Comment

Strength of a woman

AS the world celebrated the International Women’s Day yesterday, it is important to view this day as an occasion to take stock of the status of women and efforts to address the historical imbalances.
It is an occasion for a check-in on the state of gender equality around the world.  While many countries have made strides towards gender equality, the news is still admittedly not great.
Even in northern Europe, the most egalitarian region in the world, female politicians face familiar struggles such as biased media coverage, gender stereotypes and entrenched male power.
Since the Beijing Declaration, many countries have made efforts to uplift the welfare of women.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender Protocol, for example, sets aside 30 percent of the slots in decision-making decisions for women.
Zambia has embraced both the Beijing Declaration and the SADC Gender Protocol to elevate the status of women by appointing women to positions of authority.
President Edgar Lungu has continued with the legacy started by President Michael Sata of appointing more women to decision-making positions.
Zambia has therefore, to a great extent, walked the talk on elevating the status of women through this form of affirmative action.
It may not have implemented the SADC quota system fully but huge progress has been made as seen from the number of appointments to influential positions.
Apart from cabinet positions, several women have been appointed as permanent secretaries, directors and chief executives of various public institutions.
However, there has been more to uplifting the welfare of women than just appointments.
For example, almost all beneficiaries on the cash transfer scheme are women.
The presidential empowerment fund has targeted mostly women to get them out of extreme poverty.
Government, with the help of cooperating partners, has also come with several initiatives such as the re-entry policy to allow girls who fall pregnant to complete school. This is all aimed at improving girl-child education, in essence, achieving the goal of universal access to education.
Government has also built technical secondary schools for girls and has also been offering women science and technology fellowships.
While government and its partners have played a part, the buck stops on women to encourage themselves.
This country has more role models that girls and women can look up to for inspiration.
Despite a lot being achieved to get women out of their situations, a lot still needs to be done, especially in rural areas where early marriages and teenage pregnancies are still rampant.
Early marriages, just like teenage pregnancies, are not only a health risk, but also perpetuate poverty; they facilitate inter-generational transfer of poverty.
President Lungu has also noted incidences of gender-based violence which have become a common feature, with women killing their partners.
Mr Lungu is also saddened by the increased cases of murder of women occasioned by men.
We urge councillors, members of Parliament (MPs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to join Government in the fight against early marriages and teenage pregnancies in order to help the girl-child realise her dream.
Zambia will only fully celebrate when the girl-child is liberated from shackles that prevent her from realising her full potential.
We must join hands in addressing the historical imbalances that have continued to hinder women from progressing. These must be addressed holistically because, unless we address inequalities everywhere, we will achieve equality nowhere.




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