WOMEN for Change (WfC) executive director Lumba Siyanga says there can never be development if the majority of Zambia’s population, who are women, are not involved in the leadership of the country.

In an interview, Siyanga called for more women’s participation in the forthcoming August 12 election for the country to move forward and achieve its developmental agenda.

“2021 is an election year and we expect that political parties are going to adopt women that will stand at various positions in terms of presidential, parliamentary, mayoral or district chairpersons and at local government-level. So, we are encouraging political parties to adopt as many women as possible because women, when given a chance, are able to deliver. Moreover, there can never be development as long as 51 per cent of the population that is the women and girls are left behind in terms of decision-making. Therefore, the participation of women in this year’s elections on the 12th of August is cardinal for us to push forward as a country,” Siyanga said.

And she urged women to start mobilising themselves and start making their intentions to run for public office known, adding that they should take advantage of the option to stand as an independent candidate if they were not adopted by any political party.

“And to the women that would want to stand as candidates at various levels, we would like to encourage you to start getting on the ground and make yourselves known, make your intentions known and show that you are able to represent the people at various levels, and my encouragement to the female candidates is that they should not give up when not adopted. This country, in terms of our Electoral Act, it allows for individuals to stand as independent candidates, you don’t have to belong to a particular political party. But if you are able to show and if you have been on the ground and you have been working with the communities for the past months or years, you really don’t have to belong to a political party,” Siyanga said.

She further urged citizens to vote on merit and not just on political party grounds.

“I think we want to encourage citizens to vote for people that will be able to work for them to look at the issues at hand and how they are going to be handled instead of just voting for a particular political party. I think this is what has been taking us backwards as a country since the focus is on political parties other than what leadership qualities or what that person is capable of doing. So, 2021, we expect to see a different kind of election, we expect to see a different kind of campaigns and we want to see a violence-free campaign and a level-playing field for all candidates regardless of their political affiliations,” said Siyanga.