As Zambia joins the international community in commemorating International Women’s Day on 8th March, under the theme ‘Pledge for Parity’, women’s representation in positions of influence is still minimal.
The International Women’s Day has been set aside to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is a day to reflect on the many great contributions women have made to the development of the country, and to look at ways of increasing women’s representation in key positions. It is a day for identifying ways of overcoming the various stumbling blocks that hinder women’s representation in position of influence. This is a day set aside internationally to celebrate women and recognise their unquestionable role in shaping the development of communities and nations. So special is this day for Zambia that it has been set aside as a public holiday.
While women and girls constitute more than half of Zambia’s population, their representation in positions of socio-economic and political influence does not in any way represent this fact that they are a majority of the population.
To get a picture of how grossly underrepresented women are on the Zambian political scene, one needs to look no further than the National Assembly of Zambia (NAZ) website. According to the Parliament website, out of 158 Members of Parliament, only 22 are women. This means only 13 percent of all MPs are women. Or simply put, for every one woman in Parliament, there are at least six male MPs. This is not a fair representation at all. It undermines the contribution of women to the making of crucial laws and policies which are necessary for building a better Zambia.
According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index for 2015, Zambia is ranked 116, out of 145 countries. This means that Zambia is rated among the top 30 countries with the highest levels of gender inequality in the whole world. This is not acceptable for a country which has been a model African democracy for the past few decades. And it takes each one of us to ensure that Zambia moves from the bottom 30 to the top 30 on the Global Gender Gap Index. With commitment and focus, it is possible.