JOHANNESBURG – 14th JUNE, 2015 – PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has said Zambia and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have made realistic and significant strides in empowering women in different spheres of development.
Meanwhile, the 25th Ordinary Session of the Heads of State of the African Union (AU) opened yesterday with the chairperson Robert Mugabe calling on Africa to leverage its natural resources to attain desirable development strides.
Mr Lungu said the region recognised the need to enhance the role of women by harnessing their strengths in all spheres of social and economic development.
He said this in his remarks during a high-level panel discussion on women empowerment during the summit in Johannesburg yesterday.
“From the perspective of the Southern African region, I wish to state that we have taken the issue of women empowerment seriously by adopting a stand-alone protocol on gender and also support programmes to decisively address the plight of women and the girl-child,” he said.
Mr Lungu said most SADC countries had adopted a 50-50 representation in Parliament and that Zambia took it a step further by appointing a first-ever female Vice-President, Inonge Wina.
He said the country had also appointed women in various senior constitutional offices.
The Government has also put in place measures targeted at empowering women through the provision of extension services in agriculture, as well as addressing the imbalance of land ownership.
“In the case of Zambia, 72 per cent of our nationals derive their livelihood from agriculture out of which 65 per cent are women, the President said.
The region had adopted robust programmes in attaining gender parity in the education sector and there was need to also focus on empowering women not just in the formal and informal sectors but in accessing financing as well.
For Zambia, Mr Lungu identified the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission Act as among the many strategies for empowering women with finance.
Meanwhile, the AU chairperson took a swipe at the United States and Britain for contributing to the instability in Libya and Iraq by forcibly removing the leadership of the two countries for the exploitation of their oil.
Mr Mugabe said Africa must support its own plans of coming out of poverty and other challenges by ensuring the successful implementation of the Agenda 2063 plan.
The theme of this year’s summit was ‘Year of women empowerment and development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063’.
During his opening remarks, President Mugabe praised the efforts of women past and present in driving the development of Africa.
He said Africa should look for alternative funding for its development because its partners may not support the continent’s plans of maximising benefits from its resources.
He said while the meeting would discuss alternative sources of funding for the AU, it was important to ensure ownership of the continental body and its programmes.
The alternative sources lay in countries creating incentives for industrialisation that would add value to raw materials that were produced around the continent.
“Let us leverage resources for development by adding value and moving away from raw material exports. Industrialisation should come now then we can talk of the awakening of the African giant,” he said.
African countries had relaxed from the time they gained independence but after so many years, it was shameful that little had been done towards development through industrialisation.
President Lungu said Africa’s allies were happy with the continent’s lack of industries because they bought raw resources for processing in their countries and exporting the finished goods back to Africa.
It was disappointing that some states imported food requirements such as sugar. – TIMES OF ZAMBIA