WOMEN for Change (WfC) executive director Lumba Siyanga has expressed concern on the low numbers of women who have been adopted by political parties to participate in this year’s general elections, especially from the ruling party.

And NGOCC board chairperson Mary Mulenga has condemned the people questioning the adoption of PF candidate for Mwandi constituency Iris Kaingu based on her past mistake.

In an interview, Monday, Siyanga expressed disappointment that only a few women had been adopted so far.

She urged the political parties to adopt more women especially those that were yet to announce their candidates.

“We haven’t yet seen the full list especially from the opposition side but so far we can say it is a bit disappointing especially that very few women are being adopted. In their so called stronghold, that’s where they should have adopted more women. At least there is a higher chance of them winning [in the strongholds] as opposed in the other areas where certain political parties are popular. We are still analysing but so far like even from the PF side who are almost done with like half of their adoption process, for example we have seen Luapula, one woman being dropped and replaced by a male. And they only adopted three women out of 14 which is unfortunate. In another province I think I also saw, is it Northern, there were only two women. So already this is an indication that we are going to have very few women in 2021 in terms of representation,” said Siyanga.

“When you talk to the women’s lobby, they have the statistics. Women have always shown interest in participating in politics but political parties still ask ‘where are the women’ when actually they applied for adoption. This issue of saying ‘women are not there’ is not true. Women were there and they have been left out. It is very unfortunate that the country that tries to promote gender equality… even in the Constitution, provides for gender equality in terms of participation of women and men. We have a gender equity and equality act which also provides and ensures that women are there and represented. When it comes to implementation, the political parties are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. It is very disappointing and we can only urge them to adopt more women especially for those that are yet to announce their adoption process. It’s unfortunate that they are failing to stick to their words, they are failing to follow the Zambian Constitution.”

Meanwhile, Mulenga condemned those who were questioning the adoption of Kaingu based on her past mistake.

“We have witnessed an increase in violence in political space, this is GBV in political space because it is affecting the women. The thinking is that politics is for the male gender and yet we have signed protocols which are talking about 50-50 representation in leadership positions including politics. So politics is no longer a man’s game, it is both genders, female and male to participate in leadership positions including political decisions. Now if we are going to witness violence like we have witnessed in the past from the 2016 elections, then that tends to discourage the women folk, and we are not just talking about the physical violence, we are talking about verbal abuse and slandering of women which we have already seen,” said Mulenga.

“Look at our young lady Iris Kaingu, why do people have to bring her past into her politics? There’s no relationship. Who do they know, you know how she has transformed. We are all capable of doing wrong things, so let us not bring people’s bad statuses and that should not just be about women but men as well. We have seen photos about honorable Mabumba, why do they have to bring in that part. So I think we need to learn to be mature about these things. This cyber bullying law needs to be properly enforced because it’s totally unnecessary to slander our people especially women.”