Zambia: Draft Constitution is progressive on gender equality

Emily Sikazwe. (Photo: St.
Francis Xavier University)

Zambian civil society organizations, especially those devoted to women’s rights, are demanding for the Republican Constitution now on debate to be approved through an assembly and a referendum. The first draft, launched by an official technical committee, contains progressive provisions on gender equality and the promotion of women’s rights, said Women for Change executive director Emily Sikazwe.

However, Dr Sikazwe demanded the technical committee to inform the nation when the second draft Constitution will be published to allow Zambians prepare for the referendum.

Women for Change (focal point of Social Watch in Zambia) also appealed to the delegates to go flat out sensitizing fellow women to vote in favor of the draft constitution during the referendum.

“Let us go out and share what we have agreed here with our sisters so they can vote in favour of this draft constitution. We also need to sensitise them on the referendum,” Dr Sikazwe said.

The women’s movement said the referendum provides the opportunity for the expansion and amendment of the Bill of Rights.

This is contained in a declaration paper on engendering the republican Constitution presented during a three-day Women’s Conference on the Constitution dubbed “no women, no constitution” held Lusaka recently.

The parties to the Women’s Declaration on Engendering the Republican Constitution include the labor movement, the private sector, traditional leaders and groups under the umbrella of the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC).

The women’s movement also said that there is need to enshrine in the Constitution gender equity in terms of economic empowerment including the right to own land and housing.

“We reiterate that women’s rights are human rights as reflected in our earlier submissions in various constitution making processes namely the Mvunga, Mwanakatwe and the Mungomba Constitution Review Commission as well as the National Constitution Conference,” the paper reads.

They further demanded for the recognition of education as an important tool for empowering women, a goal that should also be pursued by proportional representation in all decision making structures. 


Dlamini-Zuma welcomed

Zambian women’s movement has welcomed the election of South African former Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as African Union Commission (AUC) chairwoman, with a call on her to embark on conflict resolution and poverty eradication.

Sikazwe said that having a woman at the helm of the AUC brings hope for peace and stability as well as poverty eradication, which are the biggest challenges Africa is currently faced with.

Women for Change are hopeful that Dlamini-Zuma will work hard to put these challenges to rest during her tenure of office.

“Her election is historic and it is something the whole women’s movement is happy about,” she said.

Dlamini-Zuma was elected this month AUC chairperson at the 19th AU summit in Addis Ababa, making her the first woman to hold the position. She takes over from Dr Jean Ping of Gabon, who has held the position since 2008.

Sikazwe hopes governments in Africa would take a leaf from Dr Dlamini-Zuma’s ascendance to the AU top job to take women’s participation in politics seriously.

Zambia Daily Mail: