—-Deputy Minister for Gender and Development, Josephine Limata, has reaffirmed government’s commitment towards improving the plight of women and the girl child in vulnerable communities.
Ms Limata said this yesterday when she paid a courtesy call on Chief Chitina of the Swaka people at his palace in Mkushi district.
MS Limata stated that the Patriotic Front government was eager to address the plight of women in such aspects as financial independence as well as in efforts that aimed at curbing Gender Based Violence (GBV).
She said early marriages and defilement were amongst the pertinent issues that needed to be addressed in the efforts that aimed at upholding the rights of the girl child.
The deputy minister said to this effect, government placed much value on partnership with traditional leadership and explained that chiefs were very key to the success of government policies that involved promotion of gender equity.
Ms Limata noted that cultural norms were amongst the challenges that slowed down the momentum of government’s gender promotion policies in rural communities.
She expressed confidence that the partnership involving government and chiefs would help the cause of promoting gender equity and stamping out early marriages and Gender Based Violence.
Ms Limata pointed out that poverty was amongst the pivotal factors that confined most women in rural communities to be totally dependent on their male spouse, adding that government was eager to encourage self reliant amongst women.
She observed that the aspect of being financially dependent rendered many women vulnerable as their rights were infringed upon in matters involving GBV and land ownership amongst others.
Meanwhile, Chief Chitina welcomed government’s quest to extend the impact of its gender related policies in the remote parts of the district and pledged to work with government on the matter.
Chief Chitina said he had been active in promoting the rights of the girl child to education, saying he had so far retrieved 53 girls from early marriages and sent them back to school over the past year.
The chief said this action was a hallmark of his commitment to the cause of curbing early marriages in his chiefdom.
He also acknowledged the importance of financial independence amongst women in rural communities, adding that he had endorsed the rights of women to be owners of customary land through procurement as well as inheritance.
Chief Chitina, however, appealed to the minister to help in efforts that aimed at easing access for poor rural children to be considered for bursaries, charging that bursaries mainly benefited children from urban areas.
He said this appeal deserved serious consideration, explaining that tertiary education in particular was still a major challenge amongst children from poor rural communities.
Deputy Minister for Gender and Development Josephine Limata, who begun her tour of Mkushi District on Sunday, is scheduled to meet several women clubs in various parts of the district over the next three days.