Non-Governmental Gender Organization Coordinating Council (NGOCC) executive director Engwase Mwale says it is critical for women and men to recognize and appreciate their different roles in order to attain gender equality.

And Swedish Ambassador to Zambia Henrik Cederin says Zambia has made a lot of progress in improving gender equality.

Speaking during the Swedish and Zambian Dads photo exhibition at Lusaka National Museum, Wednesday, Mwale said men needed to become champions of gender equality.

“When we talk about marching towards gender equality in this nation, we as NGOCC, has recognized the fact that it is very critical for both women and men to recognize and appreciate their different roles, and that these roles can actually be interchanged by both parties. Who says a father cannot help the wife with house chose? So, this photo exhibition reminds us [as a] nation [of] the need to realize that men can be brought on board to become champions in ensuring that they bring about gender equality and equity,” Mwale said.

She observed that women in the country have remained vulnerable and marginalized.

“Society thinks NGOCC only talks about women empowerment. Yes, we do talk about women because we feel women have remained vulnerable and marginalized in a lot of areas and platforms, so our role is to build their capacity and empower them so that then, we can go towards gender equality. But I think the role of fathers, or the role of dads, becomes more critical because when they are in the space, then our principal gender equality becomes alive through sharing the different roles with their women. We need to move away from the old society where a man is supposed to sit, while a woman does every work at home,” Mwale said.

And Swedish Ambassador to Zambia Henrik Cederin observed that Zambia had made much progress in improving gender equality.

“Sweden has one of the world’s most generous parental insurance scheme enabling parents to stay home with their children for 480 days, paid for by the state. In Sweden, both parents are encouraged to stay home, shown by the decision in 1974, as the first country in the world to replace providing maternity leave to instead providing the broader parental leave. 90 of these 480 days are reserved for each parent exclusively. Today, fathers take roughly 25 per cent of the total number of days available to the couple. So, I see Zambia is a country that already works hard to improving gender equality and much progress has been made,” said Ambassador Cederin.

The event, which was organized by the Swedish Embassy, showcased a Swedish and Zambian ‘Dad photo’ exhibition to highlight the importance of a father in a family in order to achieve gender equality.