Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) has released a review of the year 2022, highlighting the low levels of female representation in leadership and decision-making positions in the country. According to the review, women made up just 14% of members of parliament, 7.6% of councillors, 12.9% of mayors and council chairpersons, and 17.8% of Cabinet Members. At the provincial level, only 10% of ministers are women. The ZNWL has called for the adoption of a mixed member electoral system in 2023, in order to promote the inclusion of women and other marginalized groups in governance.
The high cost of living in Zambia in 2022 had a disproportionate impact on women, who make up a large proportion of the poor in both urban and rural areas. This has contributed to malnutrition and stunted growth in children, as well as an increase in criminal activity and prostitution. The ZNWL has called on the government to prioritize economic and social development for women in 2023, including measures such as affordable healthcare, education, and access to finance.
Violence against women, including sexual and gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation, was also a major concern for the ZNWL in 2022. The organization called for the implementation of laws and policies to protect women and girls, as well as the establishment of gender-sensitive complaint mechanisms and services for survivors.
Despite some progress, such as the appointment of Ms. Mwangala Zaloumis as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the election of Ms. Cynthia Makungo as Ward Councillor for Mbereshi, the ZNWL emphasized the need for further efforts towards gender equality in all areas of society. The organization called for women’s voices to be heard and for their participation in leadership and decision-making processes to be ensured.
The ZNWL also highlighted the need for the government to fulfill its commitments to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against against Women (CEDAW), the Maputo Protocol, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development. The recently published findings of the 2022 census, which show that women make up 51.03% of the population, further underscore the need for increased representation and inclusion of women in governance and policy-making.
In conclusion, the ZNWL called on the government and all stakeholders to take urgent action to address the challenges facing women in Zambia in 2023, and to work towards a more equal and inclusive society. The organization emphasized the importance of women’s empowerment and participation in all aspects of development, and called on all actors to take concrete steps towards achieving gender equality and the realization of women’s rights.