IT IS exciting to learn that out of 33 wards that make up the Greater City of Lusaka, 25 women have applied and nominated to contest at local government level where they hope to tackle the real issues of bread and butter for local communities in the capital of Zambia.
One of those daring for local community leadership is Tasila Lungu, the young, brave daughter of the President, who is aspiring for Nkoloma ward 1 of Chawama constituency where her father started his long, rough walk to Plot 1 on Independence Avenue.
The other notable candidate is former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa who did not apparently seek to fight to become a running mate but decided to vie for the humble but influential role of Executive Mayor of Lusaka, the village head person and chief executive officer of one of the fastest growing metropolitan with challenges as huge as its population.
This maybe a drop in the ocean for the women movement but every journey begins with one step. Inonge Wina is the running mate for President Edgar Lungu and the United Progressive Party has adopted a woman too as running mate.
All in all, the UPND has adopted 29 women, the PF 24 and FDD 18. This is a far cry from the past where only a handful of women stood for elections. Zambia is slowly marching to the much-acclaimed prized goal of gender equity.
We understand the concerns of Vice President Mrs Wina who bemoaned the lack of sufficient numbers of women picked by the various political parties to participate as aspirants in the 2016 election. Sadly the number of women adopted in 2016 at parliamentary level has dropped by 36 percent but has tremendously improved at council level.
In fact, all the women’s organisations have expressed sadness that not enough of their gender have been adopted to stand especially at the major decision-making level of members of Parliament and mayor.
The fact that 25 women are battling to become councillors of Lusaka City Council is a glimmer of hope in a country whose politics and traditional decision-making processes have been dominated by the male gender from time immemorial.
No wonder the Zambia National Women’s Lobby acknowledged yesterday that it was encouraging that women have started to rise up to the challenge of leadership at local community level.
What is important is that the few women who have fought to be adopted or were asked to stand for elective office have done so with great enthusiasm.
Moaning about low women representation will not help the cause of women. The women movement must support female candidates with whatever resources they can muster to ensure they put up an effective, formidable campaign wherever they may be standing.
One of the biggest challenges women face in their campaigns is funding, transport and the resources to mount a credible campaign. This is where the women movement can come in and ensure women candidates are well funded and are mobile to reach every part of their constituency or ward.
Unless this is done the cry for more women representation at decision-making level will be a cry in the wilderness. It is no good for women to continue winging about corruption, political violence, intimidation or lack of education and intra-party democracy as barriers to women political advancement.
The die is cast and let us see women stand up to support their own.