Sunday, 21 September 2014

Zambia National Women's Lobby Reacts To Sata's Speech In Parliament

Beauty Katebe
The speech presented to Parliament by President Michael Sata yesterday is encouraging as it has touched on the most critical national issues affecting women and children. The Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) is particularly encouraged that the President has yet again shown political will by expressing interest in increasing women’s participation in decision making processes and challenging women to rise to the challenge as there is still room for them to participate in the leadership of the country. We urge the President to go a step further and expedite the constitutional making process so that women’s participation in decision making process is not only backed by political will, but also by the law.

As ZNWL, we are also encouraged that the President has reiterated his commitment to putting in place stringent measures to protect women and children from all forms of abuse. This is important because the prevalence of gender-based violence is currently unacceptable, and posing a challenge to the country’s development.

The President also gave policy direction on how issues of poverty will be tackled. It is a well known fact that poverty is Zambia‘s biggest challenge to national development at the moment and that women are the most affected. We therefore applaud the Government for aligning their policies towards the reduction of poverty through among other strategies, the creation of employment for the youths by adopting an industrialisation and job creation strategy that will focus on specific growth sectors such as agro-processing, manufacturing and creative industries. We feel this will not only reduce poverty levels, but also facilitate the decline in other negative vices that are as the result of joblessness. We implore the Government to provide the necessary financing and training in these programmes if the industries are to compete with the already established multinational –conglomerates and further provide stringent monitoring mechanisms.

We further feel that this policy ties in well with Governments’ plans to enact the customary land administration bill which will ensure that the interests of the local people in rural areas are protected.

Zambia has been quoted amongst the most undernourished nations in the region. While the President’s pronouncement on guaranteeing the food security as it relates to the staple food is welcome, we feel there is need for deliberate policies that will encourage crop diversification as a means of improving the nutritional status of the nation.  People also need to be sensitised on the importance of consuming the right kind of food as the lack of proper nutrition leads to cognitive deficiencies among other problems.

Health care is of paramount importance in any development endeavour hence, Government’s announcement that construction of 650 health posts has commenced and that the major health institutions are being equipped with ultra modern equipment, is good news. This will assist in bringing basic health care closer to Zambians, especially women. However government must ensure that access to such specialised medical equipment is affordable for all with enough medical personnel to guarantee the acceptable standards of health care.
We however would have appreciated if the President had provided a time frame on when some important national issues like the constitutional making process and its road map would take place.

Issued by National Chairperson, Ms Beauty Katebe
Zambia National Women’s Lobby

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