EFFORTS to change the status of women in Zambia have continued to be frustrated by a number of illegal impediments, lack of political will, poverty and resources, says Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Executive Director Engwase Mwale.
She said the number of women intending to participate as councillors and Members of Parliament in this year’s elections is worrying.
Ms Mwale pointed out that currently the representation of female Members of Parliament stood at 17 per cent while at Local Government level the figure was at six per cent.
She was speaking in Siavonga yesterday at the News Editors’ forum being held by the NGOCC under the coordinated Women in Politics project (WIP).
The project is designed to support women participation in politics particularly in the run up to the August 11 general elections.
Ms Mwale stated that the PF government had appointed some women in key decision-making positions which included that of the republican Vice President.
At the moment, there are only six female Cabinet Ministers in the PF government.
She said it was the mandate of the NGOCC to coordinate and mobilise members in a concerted manner for advocacy and capacity building programs aimed at advancing the status of women in Zambia.
She said despite government having ratified a number of conventions aimed at ensuring gender equity and equality, the situation had not changed much.
Ms Mwale said the provision in the recently assented to Republican Constitution of a Grade 12 certificate as a qualification to those vying for elective positions had come as a blow to women in rural areas particularly.
And Ms Mwale said there was need for women in the country to position themselves by taking part in politics. She wondered why the number of women being elected had remained low.
She partly attributed the low number of women participation in politics to lack of interaction with the media.
Ms Mwale hoped the engagement of the media would help to respond to the concerns that have been raised by women aspiring candidates across the country. She emphasised the need to enhance a good relationship with the media and raise the voices of women on various issues of national development.
Ms. Mwale hoped the forum would provide an opportunity to bring out issues that inhibited the favourable and equitable coverage of women’s issues in the media.
She further said the media should begin to address the areas of concern that hinder them from giving effective coverage to women’s active participation in politics.