President Edgar Lungu has paid glowing tribute to Zambian women for the various achievements they have attained at national and personal levels.
President Lungu said he is proud that many Zambian women have raised the countryâ€™s profile through the successes they have scored.
The Head of State extolled the women when he officiated virtually during the commemoration of the International Womenâ€™s Day celebration in Lusaka, under the theme â€œWomen in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.â€
He said the theme celebrates the tremendous efforts being made by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President pointed out that the theme also advocates for womenâ€™s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, and elimination of violence for attainment of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
President Lungu said the women achievers have done the country proud and embodies the spirit of the countryâ€™s great women of the freedom struggle and founding mothers such as Mama Julia Chikamoneka, Mama Betty Chilunga, Mama Mary Fulano, and Mama Chibesa Kankasa.
â€œUnfortunately, we are unable to celebrate this special day in the usual manner all because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I, myself, will tell you, here and now, that I am so proud of the successes that many Zambian women have made, both at personal and national level,â€ said President Lungu.
â€œNot long ago, I was congratulating the effort made by a young Zambian pilot, Thokozile Muwamba, who just completed a 485 kilometre walk from Lusaka to Livingstone in her effort to fight cyber-bullying. That is the positive change we long for,â€ said President Lungu.
The President noted that presently, there were other women excelling in other fields and sectors such as peace-keeping, engineering, medicine, teaching, politics, farming, and business whose efforts may not be celebrated, but are making a positive impact in society.
The President commended journalists among other women who have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19, through their awareness campaigns on the pandemic across the country.
He said women are agents of change who need to orient other women and girls to aim high, dream and aspire for leadership positions, in the political and professional world to enhance the countryâ€™s development process.
President Lungu praised the efforts of women across the country trying to make ends meet and cater for their families during the challenging times the country is going through.
â€œI commend you, that woman in Mandevu township, keeping orphaned children and making ends meet through selling groundnuts and maize cobs, my heart goes out to you. I applaud your spirit,â€ said President Lungu.
The Head of State regretted that the commemoration of the International Womenâ€™s Day in 2021 has been marred and by COVID-19 pandemic which the world is battling with.
He saluted the women for playing a pivotal role in combatting the pandemic by being at the frontlines of health care provision and care giving for COVID-19 affected persons and enforcement of COVID-19 prevention measures in homes and communities.
President Lungu said he is saddened that women are failing to participate in leadership and decision making due to continued social barriers which are hindering the actualization of the potential of women in leadership.
â€œWe need to uphold womenâ€™s rights and fully leverage the potential of women in leadership in our efforts to achieve our set development,â€ said President Lungu.
He noted that women play a key role at household and national level hence the need to support and empower them for the development of the family and the nation.
The President said Zambia and the global society has a lot to learn from womenâ€™s capacity to carry the burden of care giving in times of disease outbreaks and calamities.
He pointed out that the world is now learning from countries governed by women which have been successful in stemming the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic, and responding to health and broader socio-economic impacts.
Meanwhile, President Lungu said government will continue to work with cooperating partners to coordinate the implementation of various gender mainstreaming and empowerment interventions to ensure women and girlsâ€™ rights are promoted and protected.
He named the 50-50 land allocation policy being implemented by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement Programme, as well as educational scholarships to vulnerable women and girls, including child marriage survivors among others.
The President said government with support of the European Union, Sweden and Ireland will continue to implement programmes to fight sexual and gender based violence.
And speaking earlier at the commemoration of the International Womenâ€™s Day in Lusaka, stakeholders called on government and opposition political parties to increase the adoption of women candidates to participate in the August 12 general elections.
The Non-Governmental Gender Organizationsâ€™ Coordinating Council (NGOCC), Human Rights Commission and the United Nations said there is a growing need to have more women representation in the political arena to help effect social change and enhance womenâ€™s leadership role in society.
NGOCC Chairperson, Mary Mulenga said it is unfortunate that 56 years after independence Zambia still has less representation of female leaders in government, parliament and district governance level.
Mrs Mulenga said her organization has developed an election strategy for the adoption of more women and will soon hold a summit for political party presidents to endorse the blueprint in order to attain the Southern African Development Community (SADC) 50-50 parity.
She called on government to establish a gender equity commission to accelerate the mainstreaming of gender in the country.
Human Rights Commission Chairperson, Mackford Mwandenga noted that COVID-19 had caused regression in the attainment of gender equality and has disadvantaged women.
Mr Mwandenga feared that more women are likely to lose employment and their businesses due to the society demands of them being at the frontline of health and care giving as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged government to devise deliberate policies and programmes to create opportunities for women to recover from COVID-19 impacts.
Mr Mwandenga said the Human Rights Commission will endeavor to ensure that it works to promote and protect the rights of women as the country works to actualize gender equality.
UN Resident Coordinator, Coumba Mar Gadio reiterated the need for more women to be adopted in the 2021 general elections Dr Gadio said UN will continue to work with the Zambian government to support nationwide efforts to support women empowerment and promotion of gender equality.
She said there is need for Zambia to continue to break down social and cultural barriers hindering women representation and participation in decision making positions.
And Swedish Ambassador to Zambia, Anna Maj HultgÃ¥rd expressed concern at the possible increased cases of gender based violence due to the COVID- 19 pandemic which has created amicable conditions for the vice.
The Swedish envoy said Zambia ranks poorly on the gender equality index sitting at 137 out of the 162 countries listed.
Speaking in a virtual address Ambassador Maj HultgÃ¥rd said Sweden will continue to assist Zambia fight gender based violence and promote gender equality through various interventions and programmes.
She said Sweden wants to support Zambiaâ€™s efforts in promoting gender equality and ensure that Zambian women and girls take part in the global transformation for a just and equal society.