Jul 12, 2011

Womanist agenda

Today’s Post newspaper has a very well written editorial about women’s participation in politics. The author rightly suggests that this should be part of the agenda for this year’s elections. It has the usual call for women to be integrated in Zambian political process and being empowered. All good stuff and it echoes a lot of what many of us talk about.

However, I want to add different dimension. For those who are empowered – economically, socially and/or politically – what are we doing to aid those who have not achieved the same? I do not exclude myself from this question.

On the part of politicians I don’t think it’s simply enough to run on a feminist or womanist platform and not follow through with meaningful change for your primary constituents. Zambia has no shortage of female political juggernauts but where is the service delivery to match their words? Don’t talk to me about the need for advancement of women, when you won’t spearhead policy change that places a priority on equitable access to education, employment and health care, and the eradication of child marriages. Pick your focus, there are many to go around.

Instead of being used as mouth pieces or mud wrestlers by the party leaders, how about going back to the core reason why many of us still decry the lack of opportunities for the majority of women folk? We need advocates willing to buck the trend, who don’t subscribe to the continual postponement of our dreams and aspirations.

I am cognizant of the fact that people still view women in politics, particularly those who are outspoken, as not normal or even unwomanly but you know what, there are some detractors whose jobs it is to make noise and disparage. This is where strength is numbers comes in – working as caucus in collaboration with civil society and other politicians on a defined set of goals to get this accomplished.  It can be done. We have no shortage of examples from other fledging African democracies. See example here. Shame the detractors by doing the job and by doing it right!


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