THE trend of women being verbally abused because they are involved in politics has raised concern among Lusaka residents who have called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia to protect the rights of women political aspirants.
The residents have complained that women were scared to take part in politics because of widespread intimidation by men who are already established in politics.
They said that most women felt intimidated and were unable to participate effectively because some political players regarded them as immoral and with no regard for family or tradition.
Some people claimed that women did not make good leaders and that was why each time they wanted to participate in politics they were insulted and called names.
Jessica Chipasha, a resident of Chilenje, said that women should not be intimidated or insulted just because they chose to have a say in the running of the country.
Ms. Chipasha said the belief that women could not make better leaders was encouraging people to mistreat women who wanted to take up high political positions.
‘‘Women have as much rights as men to take part in political matters of the country because they are also affected by the outcome of any political decision that is made,’’ she said.
Ms. Chipasha said society looked down on women who aspired for public office because politics has been deemed as exclusively for men because they were strong and able to make better decisions than women.
‘’We have women in our society today who can make better leaders than some men we have in public offices. Women have the potential to run the country because they are sensitive and have a heart for the people and that does not in any way mean they are weak. It just shows that they have the potential to run the country and be the leaders that the people yearn for,’’ she said.
And Christine Ngoma, another Kabwata resident, said the hostility and violence that have taken over the political arena made it hard for women to participate actively in politics out of fear.
Ms. Ngoma said women were afraid of being insulted or physically abused when they engaged in politics. Most women did not participate in politics because they were threatened.
‘’Women have a lot to consider before joining politics; they have families that look up to them, so even when they are making decisions they are always putting the well-being of other people before them. It can be the husbands or the children. So when they are deciding all those people have a say in their decisions,’’ she said.
Ms. Ngoma said, in contrast, men do not have to explain to anyone when they make a decision to join politics.
But National Revolution Party president Cosmo Mumba said that women should not forget the traditions and culture of the country just because they were aiming for political office.
Dr. Mumba said women were mothers of the country who were supposed to instill good morals in young people and for them to be involved in hate speeches did not augur well with their status in spciety.
He said despite the fact that the country was fighting for equal rights between men and women people should not forget that there were traditions that they should never forsake.
‘’Zambia has traditions and customs which should not be thrown out just because people want to be involved in politics,’’ he said.
-Millennium Radio, 90.5FM