Men haven’t accepted us as partners in development – Lizzie

Gender Minister Elizabeth Phiri says she has observed that some men have not accepted women as partners in development.

And Phiri says the recently banned Chidyerano tradition was a source of Gender Based Violence among married couples.

Meanwhile, Phiri says there are many married people who are living in pretense.

Speaking when she featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Phiri lamented that some men were not treating women as partners.

“It is really worrisome [to hear of cases about men and women beating each other] and as a woman, we have discovered that our male counterparts haven’t accepted us as partners in development. It could even be as a home setup. Usually, instead of considering a wife as a partner, you find that a husband will always want to be taken like the boss. Of course he is the head of the family but while we appreciate that a man is the head but also a woman should be taken as the neck because a neck carries the head and without a stiff neck, the head will not be able to move properly,” Phiri said.

And Phiri said the recently banned Chidyerano tradition was a source of Gender Based Violence among married couples.

“Cultural norms are the ones that have caused a lot of deaths and this is the reason why as a ministry, the government of His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu is now working with chiefs so that they help us change the face of cultural and traditions so that the evil traditions should not be there. You know the evil tradition is where a woman is advised that she should keep quiet even when she is abused in the house. And we didn’t know that there was a tradition called “Chidyerano” where men exchanged women. And this is a source of GBV because a woman might say ‘you are not better than that other man we are doing Chidyerano with’,” she said.

“So we have to thank the paramount chief Gawa Undi for bringing this Chidyerano tradition to a permanent end. So it is when the chiefs come in to break some of the evil traditions that this nation will change.”

Phiri said despite achieving gender parity at primary school level, it has not been achieved at secondary and tertiary levels.

“Gender inequalities are still widespread in Zambia. This is because of cultural issues that start from home through the school system where male preference is encouraged. While we have achieved gender parity at primary schools, we have not achieved [it] at secondary and tertiary levels of education,” she said.

Phiri said despite GBV statistics being negative, government was making head-ways towards permanently ending the vice.

“What is good is that our Head of State has considered women as partners in development. As you can see that the Patriotic Front is the only party that has embraced women. It is the first of its kind since independence that it has given an opportunity to a woman and my appointment is like God wants to use me through the president to bring change on gender issues because I am the minister of gender. And even when I was sworn in, the first guidance that the president gave me was ‘help me to bring child marriage to a permanent end and these gender issues.’ So as a ministry I feel we have to work harder to bring GBV to a permanent end,” she said.

Meanwhile, Phiri said there were many married people who were living in pretense.

Asked why there were rising cases of women killing their spouses, Phiri said it was a reaction to what they had been going through.

“You know when it has gone beyond what you can handle, it’s a reaction to what has been. The cultural norm of when the woman is being prepared and taken for marriage, the counselors used to tell this woman [that] ‘whatever happens in the bedroom, do not share with anybody.’ And they were dying in silence and it is that silence that now when these things are too much for this woman, they explode in such a way that it becomes so dangerous that the woman becomes so vicious that she wants to hit back. [And] this is because of not reporting [because] if these women were reporting, the law would have defended them. [And] those that kill, follow their cases, they never even shared with their relatives. You even wonder [to say] ‘why did they kill when this marriage seemed to be very good?’ These are marriages that people live in pretense. It is the silence that has caused more deaths in marriages or in any relationship that ends into death,” said Phiri.

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