By ANNIE ZULU
FROM the time that Zambia got its independence in 1964 to date, there has been a misconception that politics is about issues which concern men more than women.
It is believed that men are associated with ‘hard’ politics and women with soft politics of the home.
But should women only be in the kitchen? Some men are also better caterers and better home keepers than women.
A good example is the fast food industry, which has become a male-dominated area than that of females.
Aren’t the operations of this industry centred on the kitchen?
However, it is the opinion of men, too, that women should not only remain in the kitchen but join the high level of political office holders.
Currently, there are 31 women out of 166 members of Parliament in Zambia.
Figures in 2010 national census show there are more women than men, with 6, 638, 019 women against 6, 454, 647 men, in a total population of 13, 092, 666.
Views from people and various stakeholders engaged in promoting women inclusion in decision-making show that women can play a better role in ending corruption and addressing some major problems in society when voted into power.
Gender activist Emmanuel Bwembya has confidence in the capabilities of women and to him, if they are given chance to rule the country not only as ministers or members of Parliament but at the highest level as president, it would help limit corruption.
“If I should go to vote and see a woman contesting with a man I will vote for the woman to go to Parliament,” Mr Bwembya said.
He, however, said women themselves should struggle to get to the top of the political ladder and not yield to intimidation.
A trader at Lusaka’s Buseko Market, Jones Banda, says some men are greedy and selfish as they misuse money, but women were mothers and very caring.
But his problem is that when women are empowered at high levels, they abuse men, especially their husbands.
He said a woman president for Zambia would be a high table for women as they might not be able to handle the post.
“Women who get into politics should be submissive for their husbands to remain heads of the house,” he said.
Another gender activist, Betty Mumba, believes more women should be voted into Parliament and be given political posts.
Her reasoning is that women are able to talk about issues affecting other women, which men do not know much about.
But what is the view of a woman in active politics in Parliament?
Sioma Member of Parliament Mbololwa Subulwa said it was not easy for a woman to be in active politics, but with determination, hard work and perseverance, one would finally get there.
Being her first time in Parliament, Ms Subulwa felt that women were more transparent. About intimidation by men she said, “as for myself men are even intimidated by me.” She called on the media and civil society groups to provide platforms to talk about the need for women to be in politics and to rope in more women.
“This can be done by sensitising the men that women are not in competition with them,” she said.
Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) executive director Juliet Chibuta said financial difficulties served as barriers to many women.
Ms Chibuta called for more financial support if more women were to be in Parliament in 2021.
Women like Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catharine Namugala, Chief Justice Irene Mambilima and Vice President Inonge Wina are occupying high positions in decision-making in the country and other women could take a cue from them.
To all prospective women politicians the road leading to Parliament is very narrow and one must struggle to get there.
And when they finally succeed, women must do well to be good deliverers.