Traditional leaders are important in eliminating gender based violence and inequality in communities, Minister of Gender Nkandu Luo has said.

Speaking during the launch of the “He for She” campaign in North-western Province held at Kansanshi Hotel in solwezi, Professor Luo said the role of traditional leaders as custodians of culture was important because they were expected to balance the good traditional values and the need to maintain gender equality.

“Your role is also to share experiences, challenges and solutions to gender based violence, teenage pregnancies and child marriages, poor access to health, land and educational services” she said.

Professor Luo said it was imperative to re-examine the way our society constructs the roles of men and women.

She said the social positioning of men and women was largely affected by political, economic, cultural, religious, ideological and environmental factors.

“To achieve gender equality and women’s rights, all men in both rural and urban areas irrespective of their economic status should be engaged as change agents,” Prof Luo said.

She said traditional leaders should be examples in their chiefdoms by giving more women opportunities to participate in decision making.

“We want to see practical application of gender equality, this can begin in the chiefdoms through the appointment of more women as head women, retainers and other positions,” she said.

She said this would show their subjects that women’s role was not only in domestic work but also in decision making.

Ms. Luo noted that Government was committed to the protections and promotion of women and children’s rights in the country.

“As you are aware gender based violence is a scourge that government is concerned about and would like to eliminate through collaborative efforts with partners,” she said.

Prof Luo said since the launch of the campaign over 1000 men have signed up for the campaign.

“The campaign is a robust programme that seeks to secure a just and fair society in our beloved country” she said.

And United Nations resident Coordinator Janet Rogan said the indaba with the chiefs is aimed at fostering real change.

“This indaba with traditional leaders during this launch of the He for She Campaign was aimed at getting results in behavioural change,” she said.

Ms Rogan noted that the indaba should lead to practical action plans in chiefdoms that lead to practical behavioural change.

She said change from the grass roots in communities and various chiefdom would have a great impact on the change seen at national level.

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