You'll probably tell from the tone of this post that I'm pretty fired up. This is quite possibly the most emotional post I’ve written to date. I am vexed, pissed, disgruntled <insert any other synonym and it probably fits> but what trumps this is that I'm motivated!
Women’s representation is Zambia’s government:
16 MPs (of 148 positions), 2 cabinet members (of 28 positions), 4 deputy ministers (of 18 positions).
This is completely unacceptable to me; however, this is not about assigning blame. The unvarnished truth as I see it is that as women we are really going to have to bootstrap our way up – with or without bootstraps.
We have a myriad of issues beyond the dismal gender representation in national politics that need serious attention. Change will not come by grovelling to men in power for political appointments, permission to run in elections, money to fund campaigns or for legislation that address our most immediate needs. If you’re reading this as an anti-man tirade, you’re wrong and are probably in the wrong place to begin with!
What we need is a true women’s movement. This will not simply be about reforming a few laws here and there but completely bucking the system. This movement needs to support grassroots projects to empower women and girls, and help bring these to the national level where the profile is elevated and benefits felt by greater numbers.
We further need a cross generational dialogue to harmonise the mission. As a young woman I see the value to learning from the women who’ve gone before me, and I know others feel the same. Our foremothers who fought in the anti-colonial resistance showed us what strength is numbers and determination can do. As we do this we can then rally together to meet our overall objectives:
- Adequate and good quality education
- Harmonising of customary and statutory law to remove inherently biased practices that disenfranchise women.
- Legislation that allows women to own and inherit property from husbands and fathers.
- Stiff statutes against gender based violence, gender based work discrimination, marital rape and child marriages
- Increased access to financial products such as bank accounts, loans, grants
- Universal access to family planning
Women are a political force and we are needed to change the course of our country. We need to move out of the shadows – we are not simply dancers at rallies, birthers and reproducers. I’m tired of the patriarchy that we’ve allowed to chain us. Only when we redefine ourselves as political agents can we make this work and plough ahead with a decisive move towards a more just world.
In the words of Gloria Steinem - "The future depends entirely on what each of us does everyday."