MINISTER of Fisheries and Livestock Professor Nkandu Luo says the reason why women keep oppressing each other is because they have been oppressed for too long.

Speaking when she featured on Smart Eagles’ Round Table Talk to commemorate Womensx Day, Friday, Prof Luo lamented that in her political career, it is women who have fought her the most.

“I want to agree with everybody [who says women don’t support each other], and I have said this and I don’t even apologise that women don’t support each other: that’s fact and nobody will take away. But the psychologists explain it, the psychologists explain that people who have been oppressed for a long time, oppress others. So because women have been oppressed for a long time, the women tend to oppress others. If I take an example of my political career, the people who fight me in Munali are women. You find them going in front of, like right now there is all this euphoria about candidates, Munali has all male candidates and you watch the captions, you see women, the so called chair ladies saying ‘this time we want a man’, you understand,” Prof Luo said.

Prof Luo, however, said despite lack of support from fellow women, she was proud of what she had achieved in her constituency.

“…and they have no reason [for wanting me out] because Munali is where as member of parliament, I am very proud of what I have done and I have used even the CDF very well. I have constructed buildings for everybody to see, I have empowered women and nobody in Munali can even be talking about lack of empowerment because it’s been my agenda and I have been empowering different groups but because the women won’t support a fellow woman, they will do whatever they are doing,” she said.

She lamented that despite having glowing credentials, women were fought mercilessly in politics.

“And all these men now have ganged up against us, you go to Petauke, it’s men who are trying to outdo somebody who is so competent, who has made Zambia proud, that is a Cambridge fellow: Dora Siliya. To be a Cambridge Fellow in the world is something to celebrate. Zambians, and especially the women of Zambia, should be proud that they have a woman like that in our government who is a Cambridge Fellow. In Britain, when Dora arrives there or in America or Europe, they hear Dora Siliya is a Cambridge Fellow, everybody will celebrate. It’s not easy for a person like me to be one of the top range graduants of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which is part of London University. That’s why I am respected all over the world, they look at where I have studied. Moscow State University is the university of the world. When I led a delegation to Russia, the vice chancellor of Copperbelt University, even just the building, he said ‘woo, that’s breath taking’. The ambassador in Russia, Zambian ambassador, was telling Russians that ‘oh, tomorrow, my minister will be visiting the Moscow State University because she is an old scholar of Moscow State University’, do you know what they told him? ‘It’s not possible for an African to have gone to Moscow State University’, so the ambassador says here is her CV, they said ‘no’,” Prof Luo said.

“These lecturers had to come to where we were having a meeting to come and confirm that I am scholar of the Moscow State University and they actually confessed that we take our heart off you because to go to Moscow State, you have to be…an excellent student. You must pass every subject with a five, which is excellent. Then when you are doing your preparatory faculty then you can find yourself in Moscow State. And there are two of us from Zambia who found ourselves in Moscow State University with a friend of mine, a doctor of physiology, Dr Betty Munalula, may her soul rest in peace. But these are things that Zambians should celebrate. Even in Munali constituency, they should be proud that they have a person of my calibre as their MP but you find them, even little boys like what in Germany you call nincompoop is busy insulting you, it’s just not right but they are insulting you because you are a woman.”

She said she had made it her mission to uplift and support other women.

“…but some of us have stood up and said we are going to fight for women and this is my agenda. Talk to anybody, for me whether when I was at UTH, when I have been in politics, even in Cabinet everybody knows, ‘ba Luo mwalaumfwa, pa banakashi’ (you will hear how Prof Luo will defend women), because I think somebody has to do it and it requires a mindset change. We need to do a lot of sensitization of our women, especially the women in politics to start supporting the female politicians.”

Meanwhile, Prof Luo said Tasintha was still operational and had continued to rehabilitate many sex workers in the communities.

“Tasintha, SWAZ, are programmes that are still on and they are very active. Just recently, we were writing a proposal jointly with project concern so that we bring in some resources, more resources because the demand is high and apart from the monies we get elsewhere and through our rentals, we still need a lot of money. That program yielded results. Now, let me tell you my own thought process. And people have asked me, did you succeed, that’s the word they always ask. You know, for a woman to admit that they are a sex worker, and they actually come to the centre and now we are no longer at the centre, we are in the communities so that everybody can see that that one is a sex worker. That in itself is an achievement,” said Prof Luo.

“So for me that’s where I start measuring my achievement that we able to mobilise women in the community and start transforming them within the community and those days when we were running the program at the centre they are able to come every morning to the centre, that’s one. The second level of success is for the women to agree to be integrated back into society. You know those girls, they don’t have a home and they live like they would rent a room, they will be about 10 of them in a room and they will ha e just buckets and baths were they bath and then they have all these their minis which they wear at night. If they become Pregnant, if you hear of the children that are picked in the drainages, most of them are for sex workers. And also one thing about sex workers, if you talking about women who support each other it’s the sex workers. So they will even take turns to look after each other’s babies. But when they join Tasintha, we reintegrate them back into society and then we rent them places within society.”