—————— Government has honoured Late President Michael Sata for his contribution to Gender Equality and Empowerment of women in Zambia.
Minister of Gender and Child Development Nkandu Luo presented the award to Late President Sata’s daughter, Mwelwa on behalf of President Lungu during the International Women’s Day -IWD commemorations held at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
The theme for this year’s IWD was; Gender is my Agenda: Make it happen.
Prof. Luo disclosed that the late President Sata has been honoured posthumously because of his efforts in moving and launching the gender policy when he served as Minister without portfolio in late President Frederick Chiluba’s government.
Hundreds of Women and men from various organisations and political parties in Lusaka matched along the great North Road from Emmedale Police Station to the National Heroes Stadium to commemorate the International Women’s Day which falls on the 8th of March every year.
Addressing the gathering, President Edgar Lungu stated that government has made steady progress in supporting and empowering women through various women empowerment programs across the country.
President Lungu said the country is gradually moving towards the attainment of 50-50 women representation in senior positions in government as witnessed by the appointment of the first ever woman Vice President, Inonge Wina.
The President stated that he has appointment more women in various key positions in his government which he said clearly indicates that the country is moving towards achieving the 50 percent women representation as required by both the SADC and African Union protocols on gender equality.
He said since 2011, his government has stepped up interventions in the health sector which have resulted in positive growth in maternal health such as safe deliveries of babies from clinics and hospitals which has since risen from 45.1 percent in 2011 to 52.2 percent in 2013.
In a speech read for him by Gender Minister Nkandu Luo, the head of state has also promised to accelerate the construction of the 650 health posts and hospitals across the country and enhance access to essential amenities such as hospitals, market for agricultural produce and schools for children’s education.
The President applauded the importance of the International Women’s Day as it recognizes the vital role women play in the development of the country.
He challenged women to utilize the opportunity provide by the women’s day to be the change agent of the future they want by aspiring high.
And Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Chairperson Sera Longwe has called on the judicially to review custodial sentence for defilement and Gender Based Violence related offences to deter would be offenders.
Ms. Longwe noted that the country has continued to record increased numbers of GBV cases with the latest police report showing over 15, 000 cases recorded last year.
Ms. Longwe further commended President Lungu for continuing with his predecessor’s legacy of appointing more women to high positions.
She stated that the appointment of a woman Vice President, Chief Justice and many other women Cabinet Ministers is an indication that the President recognizes the importance of women in the country.
She has since appealed to political parties to adopt more women to contest as counsellors and Members of Parliament and Presidents in 2016 General election.
She said the country require more women to be in various positions adding that currently there are only 5 women Cabinet Ministers out of 20 women MPs and 84 women councillors out of the total 1,422 wards country wide.
Meanwhile United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon noted that it was disheartening to know that women and girls are still denied their universal rights and suffer from Gender Based Violence after 100 years of celebration of the International Women’s Day.
In the speech read for him by UN representative Janet Rogan, the UN Secretary General noted that women have for a long time been trying to claim their rights in society such as rights to safe motherhood which has been denied to them.
The commemorations where attended by First Republican President Kenneth Kaunda, Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima, Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini, Lusaka Mayor George Nyendwa, Patriotic Front Secretary General Davies Chama, Ambassadors and High Commissioners accredited to Zambia and many other senior government official.