Minister of Gender Elizabeth Phiri says Mama Chibesakunda Kankasa`s legacy of liberating Zambia and advocating for the rights of women and girls will forever be remembered.

In a statement issued by Ministry of Gender media liaison officer Mwape Mwenya, Tuesday, Phiri implored womens’ movements to emulate her assertiveness in advocating for the rights of women and girls.

“The Hon. Minister has said Mama Kankasa who served as Minister for women affairs between 1969 and 1988 advocated for expanded women’s rights such as paid maternity leave which has lived on until today. She said Mama Kankasa championed gender equality by ensuring that women and men were given equal opportunities in decision making positions. She said her attitude towards upholding the rights of women and girls had no political inclination and it should serve as a lesson to all women in decision making positions,” stated Mwenya.

“Mrs Phiri has said Mama Kankasa was a champion for peace during elections as she denounced violence especially involving women and the youth. The Hon. Minister has urged the nation to mourn the gallant woman with the dignity she deserves. Mrs Phiri has said that the nation will miss a gallant woman who during her life insisted on increased access to education for girls in rural and urban areas.”

Meanwhile, NGOCC board chairperson Sara Longwe described Mama Kankasa as a hero in a separate statement.

“Her death has without doubt robbed the country of yet another gallant woman and hero who fought for our country’s independence. As a women’s movement we have lost an icon that was an inspiration to the young women. Mama Kankasa and other women that participated in the freedom struggle are an epitome of what women’s resilience and courageous leadership can achieve if accorded the opportunity,” stated Longwe.

“At a time Zambia is grappling with low numbers of women in decision making, the death of such an icon should be a reminder on the need for equal participation of both women and men in leadership. It is also to recognize that the struggle for women’s emancipation from vulnerability and exclusion is real and requires collective effort. As a way to honor this gallant woman, we appeal to the government to ensure that they put in place measures that will guarantee the 50-50 participation of both women and men in decision making positions. On behalf of NGOCC, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Kankasa family.”