International Women’s Day: a report from Zambia

Today is International Women's Day and various events are taking place all over the world. In Zambia, women, men, children and youth are commemorating the day under the national theme of 'The gender agenda: gaining momentum'.

Today is International Women’s Day and various events are taking place all over the world. In Zambia women, men, children and youth are commemorating the day under the national theme of The gender agenda: gaining momentum.

International Women’s Day celebrations are being coordinated by the Zambia Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC).

Ms Mary Mulenga, vice chairperson of the NGOCC Board, said: “As we commemorate this important day it is vital to take stock of the strides that we have achieved as women, 18 years after the 1995 women’s conference in Beijing. The NGOCC theme has been linked to the Beijing Platform for Action as the blue print for advancing women’s rights.

“We need to look at the state of the nation from a gender perspective because both men and women have a role to play for sustainable development to be attained and also take into account the challenges and opportunities for advancing gender equality. We need to take into account new commitments aimed at achieving the various international and regional protocols on gender such as the millennium development goals as well as the aid effectiveness and financing for development processes in the light of Zambia being reclassified as a lower middle income country.

“As women, we have not yet freed ourselves from poverty, disease and gender inequality that continues to affect the social sector that we part of. For instance, maternal mortality rates have remained very high in this country having only dropped to 591 in 2007 from 721 per 100,000 live births according to the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey Report.”

NGOCC released a statement calling on the Zambia government to undertake the following in order for the gender agenda to continue gaining momentum:

  • Domestication of both the Southern Africa Development Committee Protocol and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women as an important step to recognising and guaranteeing the rights of women.
  • The constitution to be adopted through a National Referendum in order to adopt the expanded Bill of Rights.
  • The government to make defilement an offence that does not qualify for bail and increase the sentencing powers of the magistrates in order to aid the dispensation of justice for this crime.
  • Allocate more resources towards the full implementation of the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act in the national budget especially those around the setting up of shelters and providing funding support for victims of gender based violence.
  • The government to prioritise the promotion of functional literacy programmes as illiteracy it is a major barrier towards women’s empowerment.