Social workers should positively influence societies, says Vice-President Inonge Wina in a lecture to Columbia University students.
This is according to a statement released to the media by First Secretary for Press and Public Relations Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations Mr Chibaula D., Silwamba.
The Vice-President said her social work background exposed her to values that made her fit in and freely interact at any level of society.
“The field of social work is one of the most noble and valuable,” said Mrs Wina in her lecture at Columbia University School of Social Work in New York last Wednesday.
The Vice-President remarked: “I would not be where I am today without the values I learnt and practiced as a social worker by interacting with people in all situations.”
The Vice-President said some of the “burning issues” that need social workers’ urgent intervention in Zambia included early marriages, gender based violence in homes and public, HIV/Aids pandemic, alcoholism and substance abuse, orphans, child and grandmother headed households, and children living on street, among others.
“These challenges do not need drugs from the pharmacy to cure; they are all behavioural related, and require counseling and behavioural change,” Mrs Wina said. “These examples are not confined to Zambia alone or Africa but are global in nature. I, therefore, challenge all social workers, like yourselves, especially the students, to aim at positively influencing societies, especially your peers to make a difference in their lives.”
Responding to a question on the challenges she faces as Zambia’s first female Vice-President, Mrs Wina said: “One of the biggest challenges I face is that of expectations from my fellow women in Zambia because they say, ‘now we have a woman Vice-President, lets see what she can do for women’. I keep telling my country men and women that this appointment, of course, is in recognition of the contribution that women are making to the development of Zambia but at the same time I am the Vice-President for all Zambians.”
She expressed sadness at the high number of orphaned children in Zambia and appealed for support.
She said the Government was doing its best to alleviate the problems of orphans but the number of the needy was big.
“We have more than one million orphans that need support. So, you can collaborate with the Zambian community in New York to assist us,” the Vice-President appealed. “Our focus in Zambia is to create wealth and fight unemployment, especially among the young people as well as empowering indigenous Zambians, women and the youths.”
She attributed the increase in orphans, child and grandmothers headed households to HIV/Aids.
She appealed to Columbia University, and American population in general, to assist the orphans in Zambia with educational materials.
The Vice-President called for care for the aged, adding that they had knowledge, which they could impart in youths.
She said the Post-2015 Development Agenda, currently being formulated by UN Member States, should take care of the welfare of the aged.
Columbia University School of Social Work Dean Professor Jeanette Takamura said Mrs Wina was a role model for women across the globe.
“I truly appreciate the wisdom of Vice-President Wina’s answers in the way that she has informed her perspective with the values that come from the very heart of social work,” said Prof. Takamura. “We celebrate the Zambian President (Edgar Lungu’s) wisdom in selecting you.”
Columbia University students and lecturers, Zambia’s Ambassadors to the UN and US, Mwaba Kasese-Bota and Palan Mulonda, respectively, the Vice-President’s Senior Private Secretary Ambassador Sheila Siwela, several Zambians resident in New York, and other dignitaries attended Mrs Wina’s lecture.