Editor's Comment

Women, children need voice

“IF YOU educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation,” so says an old African proverb. The dictum still holds true today as far as the importance of a woman is concerned, yet she remains the most disadvantaged in Africa, including Zambia. Those who stand out count themselves lucky because in most cases their success comes at a cost of being called names. Countless reports of violence against women in Zambia and the world at large is testimony of continued marginalisation of the opposite sex. In most ethnic groups in the country, cultural beliefs have played a big role in the suppression of women’s rights to an extent where even their care for children has been affected.
Some women are left to take care of their children’s needs while their husbands spend time drinking beer and, in worst scenarios, womanising. Of course, being a woman is not a disability, but the suffering of most women at the hands of men has put a stigma on their existence. This is why over the years the country has had an increase in the number of female-headed homes keeping orphans. This scenario has also given rise to child-headed homes. According to the Zambia Statistics Agency, in the 2010 census 5,986 child-headed households were identified. This has tripled since then due to various circumstances, which include death as a result of illnesses by their parents. However, it is always pleasing to hear a government leader standing up as the voice of women and children in society. Vice-President W.K Mutale Nalumango, a woman herself, must be commended for showing solidarity towards the fight for women’s rights. Her stance resonates well with President Hakainde Hichilema’s viewpoint on appointing more women in decision-making positions. Nonetheless, women’s empowerment cannot be completely achieved unless women themselves stand up to challenge stereotypes and support the menfolk in every way possible. The story of the Army Ladies Association of Zambia, which is engaged in community work to improve the welfare of women and children in military cantonments, reveals the resourcefulness of a woman. The Vice-President’s interaction with spouses of service chiefs and her assurance to the women that Government will not hesitate to support such initiatives is encouragement enough. We urge the women who are involved in various charity works to take advantage of Mrs Nalumango’s open arms to advance their cause for the welfare of women and children in their communities. It is gratifying that while their husbands are dedicating their time to defending the country, they have taken up an important role to take care of the vulnerable women and children within their reach.
The Army Ladies Association has been consistent when it comes to charity work in the defence forces and it has been an inspiration to many women. This should be emulated by other women who are still in bondage from male chauvinism by forming clubs that can help them improve their livelihoods. Women should identify themselves with the Vice-President, who has given herself to the service of women and children. We understand that for most women, it is always difficult to pick themselves up from poverty if there is no-one to lift them. There is an opportunity now for every woman to stand up and be counted so that they can prepare the future of their children. Women can change their narrative of being a weaker sex if they seize opportunities to improve their lives in every aspect. We also implore men to support women so that they can achieve sustainable development together. Where there is disunity between a husband and a wife, it is always the children who suffer. The challenges of a family are best tackled as a team so that children grow into focused and responsible people.
Broken homes exacerbate the challenges women and children face. So to avert this problem, it is important to educate a woman in order for the nation to be educated.

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