Ompie Nkumbula Liebenthal says lack of political will by successive governments has led to Zambia not attaining 30 percent women representation in decision making positions.

Liebenthal who is also former member of the pan African parliament said it is sad that thirteen years down the line from the time this dream started, nothing has been achieved.

“The SADC protocol which Zambia signed in 2008, requires that women achieve 50 per cent representation in decision-making positions (parliament and local government). For commonwealth countries-in particular SADC countries, 2005 was the year to achieve the goal of 30 per cent female representation. Thirteen year’s later we are still talking about it. To attain 30 per cent women in decision making positions in Zambia is a dream that has not come true because of lack of political will by successive governments since the year 2000. Motions in parliament on women’s representation in decision making positions go as far as 2003, 15 years ago,” Liebenthal stated.

She stated that out of 189 countries in the Inter-Parliamentary Unions (IPU), Zambia was standing at 110 representing 18 percent women representation in decision-making.

“Here is where we stand now. As of 1st January 2018, out of 189 countries in the Inter-Parliamentary Unions (IPU), Zambia is number 110 with 18 percent. Rwanda is number 1 with 61.3 per cent. Among SADC countries, South Africa is number 7 (42.1 per cent), Namibia, number 11 (41.3 per cent), Mozambique number 12 (39.6 per cent), Tanzania number 23 (37.2 per cent), Zimbabwe number 34 (32.6 per cent), Madagascar number 101 (19.1 per cent). In SADC, only Malawi, Botswana, Swaziland, and DRC rank lower than Zambia,” Liebenthal.

But Liebenthal noted that there was still a possibility of achieving 30 percent women representation in 2021 if political will was applied.

“This is worse than a snail pace. What are waiting for? The men have started campaigning for 2021. The Minister of Justice is talking about amending the constitution. There is complete silence on how to attain 30 per cent in 2021. 30 per cent let alone 50 per cent. But there is time to achieve this in 2021 if there is political will. All we need is affirmative action through election reforms. For example the Mwangala Zaloumins Committee proposed a Parliament of 200 MPs with 40 seats reserved for women. This immediately gives you 20 per cent women –the rest could complete, but with all political parties adopting 50 per cent men and 50 per cent women. Maybe through this means 30 per cent is possible. A better option might be a proportional representation system, such as in South Africa. There are many possible models around the world. Rwanda is an obvious example to study,” she added.

She also called for the bill on gender parity to be tabled in parliament.

“If and when a bill is brought to parliament on the issues of gender parity and equality, it will have to be specific on how to attain 50 per cent female representation- and not merely set out a general aim. That would leave us where we are now. The key to attaining 50 per cent women representation lies with the executive in particular, and all the political parties. I sincerely hope that next year on March 8th – Women’s Day – the message from the president will be that measures have been put in place to have at least 30th+women in decision making positions in the 2021 elections, otherwise it will just be the usual meaningless talk about women equally and equality,” stated Liebenthal.