Aug 2, 2011

Non-motivational speech

Last week I read an article in which Zambia’s Gender Minister, Sarah Sayifwanda, was talking about the increased number of women being caught trafficking drugs (usually as drug mules). In her words:

“...this is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the nation”
She then urged women to “emulate her steps in life and conduct good businesses that will earn them the needed respect as women.” Read the article here.

Now, I don’t know this Minister personally or much of what she has done in her capacity as Gender Minister but I cannot help but be disappointed by her words. Does she believe that speaking so crudely will help the situation? Actually to get back to basics, I would ask if she has even talked to any of the women currently jailed on these charges to find out what drove them to do this – were they coerced, did they do this because they thought it was an opportunity to make a quick buck as she insinuates? It’s very easy to sit in your position of privilege and say to others, “just pull up your bootstraps,” while ignoring the fact that your bootstraps were nice laced by your parents, your spouse and/or political allies.

This is neither to excuse criminal behaviour nor to advocate that people go unpunished, but an appeal to be thoughtful about the things we say and how we treat others. I would much rather someone in Sayifwanda’s position look at ways of helping create opportunities for the majority of women who still haven’t attained economic independence instead of heaping scorn and ridicule on those who make poor decisions. If not, then just sit down and chill out…


"Women like money which they haven’t worked for….on a silver platter.Women you have equal chances as men to prosper economically why push drugs.This is a serious national problem the govt. should take action."

Ignoring most of what's said in this GEM of a comment, he makes a point that I quickly saw was flawed. "Women you have equal chances as men to prosper economically". I don't think this is completely true for women in Australia let alone Zambia.

Furthermore..oh the irony..Gender minister advises the women to utilise "the women empowerment funds being provided by government instead of venturing in illegal activities just to make quick money".

What are women empowerment funds pray tell? Who do they go to? I bet you this is just more money, unsupervised being given to women who are probably already empowered and never had/have to think "Hmmm to be a drug mule, prostitute or die trying at getting rich?".

I would love to read Ms Sayifwanda's bio and get an idea of what she did differently.

I'm very curious to read Sayifwanda's CV, and see what exactly she has done that other Zambian women should aspire to emulate especially those involved in shameful and disgraceful deeds.

Furthermore, she should share more information about these government provided incentive programs she's touting.

it's funny how ignorant zambians are, i personally see nothing wrong with what sayifwanda said in that post, i have taken time to investigate on sayifwanda and i have found that she is someone who has come up from nothing and turned herself into a success without help from anyone.
its true that the women that would choose to go into drug smuggling are probably not financially independent but they are other ways to address their problems other than bringing shame to not only themselves and their families but the whole country at large.many women empowerment organisations are ready to help women that have credible and beneficial ideas.

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