PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has eulogised women for their efforts in contributing to the economic, social and political development of Zambia but is saddened that many obstacles are still impeding the female gender to participate in the country’s elections.
The President has pointed out stereotypes, inhibitive political structures, limited access to resources and political violence as among many of the obstacles that were impeding women from fully participating in the country’s affairs.
Addressing the nation both on Radio and Television on the eve of the African Freedom Day, President Lungu said as Zambia was heading towards the August general elections, the Patriotic Front (PF) had taken the lead in addressing the participation of women in politics by nominating Vice-President Inonge Wina as his running mate.
This year’s Africa Freedom Day is being celebrated under the theme: “Celebrating the role of women in the liberation struggles.”
President Lungu said Zambia was remembering and celebrating women freedom fighters such as Nakatindi Yeta, Julia Chikamoneka, Chibesa Kankasa, Mary Fulano, Zenia Ndhlovu, Mama Betty Kaunda, Salome Kapwe, Yolanta Chona, Joyce Chimba and Agness Changufu among others who played a leading role in Zambia’s liberation struggle.
The President said being victorious in the liberation struggle was but just the beginning of many other life struggles which included the fight against deprivation, political exclusion, hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease.
“One of the most significant developments in Africa is the increase in women’s participation in politics. Statistics show that African countries have had some of the world’s highest rates of women parliamentary representation. Zambia has recorded positive strides towards the participation in politics. This is as a result of the positive changes in the political terrain due to government’s deliberate efforts and the emergence of autonomous women movements,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu said as a lawyer, he understood and was proud to recognise the importance of women in building a better Zambia and that was why he had appointed a significant number of the female gender to various positions of authority including in the legal and justice system.
The President, however, said that despite the success recorded, Zambia was still facing a number of injustices against women and girls which he said included gender-based violence, child abuse and early child marriages.
“I wish to take this opportunity on the eve of the Africa Freedom Day to appeal to all women and girls who have attained the voting age to turn out in large numbers to exercise your right to vote. Not only should you participate as voters but also have a serious role to play by contributing to violence-free campaigns to guarantee peaceful elections. In times of turmoil, women and children are the most affected, hence the need to preach,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu implored men not to use weapons in the coming general elections, stating that weapons against each other would not deliver positive election results.