Zambia: the challenges faced by women aspiring to political office
From time immemorial, women have come together on different platforms to join forces to tackle the problem of disadvantaged women.
Despite efforts to address gender inequality in various aspects of life globally, women’s efforts to make an impression at the highest political level have continued.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 is committed to improving women’s political participation through the three aspiration on good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
Recently, the Coordinating Council of Gender Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOCC) issued a statement expressing concern that the country’s main political parties have adopted very few women.
“It is sad that there is no political will on the part of our political party leaders to bridge the gender inequality gaps between women and men in decision-making positions, especially in decision-making positions. political parties. We noted how women were systematically left out to present themselves. as advisers and members of Parliament, ”the statement read.
The aspiring candidate for the United Nations Independence Party (UNIP) in Kabwata constituency in Lusaka lamented the lack of a level playing field for women participating in the general elections scheduled for Thursday.
Engiwe Mzyece Simfukwe said that the lack of economic resources is one of the biggest obstacles to women’s participation in politics.
Ms Simfukwe, who is also the only candidate for the Kabwata constituency parliamentary office and a former foreign ministry political analyst, said today’s politics have become costly, giving men and women an advantage. those who have a lot of money.
“Money is needed for the electoral campaign in the community and requires a lot of time and commitment. The citizens seem to sell their vote to the highest bidder by asking for a monetary exchange for their vote,” Ms. Simfukwe said.
She said that just as families are created to have men and women to lead them, politics also needs women to participate in leadership.
Politics are currently dominated by men and the important ideas that women can bring forward are lacking.
Some believe that as a result there is no holistic development.
Ms. Simfukwe said women must become visible.
She said that although they run businesses that support many households, women have little or no access to loans as they need financing to improve their businesses.
Ms. Simfukwe said that women’s access to loans will lead to better families and good nutrition.
She asked the residents of Kabwata constituency to vote for her on the UNIP ticket and entrust her with the responsibility of being the first female legislator to represent Kabwata constituency and once voted, she pledged to adequately represent the region. in Parliament.
“It is difficult to campaign in an environment of violence and as a woman you need bodyguards to move around the constituency. As a woman aspiring to political office in Parliament, it is difficult to campaign with our male counterparts due to widespread violence from supporters of political parties, ”she said.
Ms Simfukwe said that having lived in Kabwata constituency for over 20 years, she has a traceable background that will enhance her ability to influence development.
Ms Simfukwe added that women in politics have little time to tour the community, unlike their male counterparts who have enough time at night to continue their campaigns.
Another woman also expressed concern that the playing field was not level for female candidates.
A woman who spoke on condition of anonymity said it is important for women to enjoy the benefits of being citizens just as men do by participating in politics.
“Many women who aspire to political office avoid competing favorably with their male counterparts due to widespread carder violence in political parties,” she said.
The woman further said that resources for community campaigns and nomination fees payable by candidates are also obstacles for aspiring candidates.
She said that for most of the women in peri-urban areas, their role is limited to doing household chores like preparing food, fetching water and collecting firewood.
She said women are heavily involved in maintaining their homes and as such campaigning for women at night has proven to be a challenge.
Indeed, such roles for women have restricted their ability to participate in governance and politics as most of their time is spent at home.
Zambia is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol which embraces 50/50 representation of women in decision-making positions.
To achieve this, all leadership structures should take note of and support women and young people who have been adopted into different positions.