Columnists Features

Use every opportunity to help other deserving women

MARGARET samulela.

THIS is definitely the best time to be a woman in Zambia. That is if you are a woman with big goals and a clear idea of how you can contribute to the development of Zambia.
Let me put things in a much clearer perspective. First, we have a female Vice-President, Inonge Mutukwa Wina, the lady I fondly refer to as Bo Inonge, the one in whom the President is well pleased to serve the nation with.
Then, we have a female serving as one half of the deputy speakers of the National Assembly, the seasoned public servant Catherine Namugala, with 20 years of experience serving in political office.
Added to these are eight Cabinet ministers who have been appointed to deliver the best of what the Patriotic Front government has planned to provide for the people in areas of higher education, agriculture, gender, community development and social welfare, and lands.
These powerful women will have 20 female members of Parliament to work with as they deliberate in the August House. Considering the 156 House seats, this number of women is a far cry from the envisioned 50/50 gender target in the Southern African Development Community, but I choose to have a positive attitude. First, because this is a significant increase from the last parliamentary composition, and second and most important, because I believe this is a group of strong, focused women who can perform wonders if given all the necessary support.
This is because parliamentary leaders are among the most powerful political figures in their countries, with ability to advocate for positive change in their communities.
So, aside from formulating and strengthening policy that would help advocate, and advance the needs of women, these women are also critical role models and mentors for other women all over the country.
The icing on the cake, fellow women, on why this is a good time to be a woman in my country, is that our First Lady, Esther Lungu, was recently inducted as African Women Entrepreneurs Programme (AWEP) first-ever chairperson in New York, United States of America.
AWEP is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and in US markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities.
So, fair and square, women in Zambia are well covered and well represented, needing only to work together for the benefit of all.
What this means is that we women have a special duty to generate good workable ideas that we can then present before our leaders to fund, and to play an active role in supporting them when they advocate for change in our interest.
It may seem too easy, maybe even far-fetched, but that is how it works. We need to set our goals, prepare and be ready so that when opportunity comes, it will be easy to pounce.
For example, those women in academia have Professor Nkhandu Luo to network with, while those upcoming farmers have the vibrant and courageous Dora Siliya to follow up for training opportunities, funding and any knowledge that would boost their agriculture business.
Entrepreneurs have the first lady to look into their needs and it is therefore expected that numerous innovations would be presented and seen through AWEP.
I make an appeal to the women in leadership to consider their fellow women in awarding opportunities that would serve to bring greater achievement to the communities and organisations they operate in. When a woman helps another woman, they both benefit. And when women celebrate one another’s accomplishments, we’re all lifted up.
Another appeal goes out to the women in need of these opportunities to network, prepare, research, and then present your ideas in a professional, well-articulated manner. It is not enough to simply want to be helped.
It is often said that men seal deals over a round of golf, or a glass of wine. But be assured, those men spend hours in research before attending those social events.
And if it can work for them, it most certainly can work for the womenfolk too. So, look out for one another, discuss those business opportunities because you are living at an opportune time to climb the ladder and meet your targeted goals.
In the women that are serving in office, we have mentors, advisors and mirrors of our goals and aspirations.
Let us be powerful allies for each other in all situations, because we are uniquely qualified to do as we experience many of the same challenges.
There is a great power in women helping each other, and you women that have the opportunities are in a better position to improve the lives of thousands of women needing assistance in one way or the other.
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail senior sub-editor.


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