AFRICAN women should continue to fight against negative traditional cultures, gender inequality and discrimination, the vices which are still a major obstacle to women’s full participation in leadership and the governance of nations, Gender Minister Victoria Kalima has said.
Ms Kalima has called on African Governments to begin considering setting up financial system that would support and fund women nominated by their political parties to contest political positions during elections if the continent has to make real progress towards its economic development.
Presenting a position paper at the high level Women leaders’ forum for Africa’s transformation at the United Nations (UN) on Thursday, Ms Kalima said Governments in Africa should involve the traditional leadership to shelf away traditional negative cultural practices that have over the years inhibited women from participating in the political and economic affairs of their respective countries.
The women leaders’ forum for Africa’s transformation was convened on Wednesday and will close with the launch of African Women Leaders Network (AWLN). It was organized by the African Union Commission, the UN Women and the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations.
Ms Kalima strongly spoke against the culture of marrying of young girls; stating that such cultural vices were seriously negating the emancipation of the female gender from poverty and backwardness.
“The importance of women leadership to a more stable, prosperous and equitable nation remain undisputed as there is empirical evidence that countries that uphold equal participation of all citizens in their affairs tend to economically and politically develop at a faster rate. Literature shows that gender equality in leadership contributes to gender diversity in resolving the problems countries face. Therefore negative cultural beliefs and their influence on people’s attitude towards women leaders should be dispensed in Africa,” Ms Kalima said.
Ms Kalima pointed out that women were generally less educated and skilled and that governments in Africa should take deliberate steps to invest in women through education to insulate them from the rough economic and political terrain often dominated by men.
“Africa must seriously begin considering preparing its girls and women for the challenge of leadership by education their girl child to the highest level. Governments in Africa should start mentoring and raising the literacy levels among women particularly those in the rural areas. This should be with the objective of creating a critical mass of women fully ready to take up leadership positions at every level,” she said.
She told the delegates to the high level women leaders’ forum for Africa’s transformation that Zambia has taken the girl child education seriously and that government is putting in place gender equity measures that would see the increase of the number of adolescent girls completing their secondary education.
Ms Kalima however emphasized the importance of the involvement of men in their desire to succeed in achieving their goals and advised the women in leadership against working against their menfolk as they constituted at least half of the population on the continent.