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International Women’s Day: “Inspiring change"

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 12:07

The early hours of Saturday morning was characterised by mobs of women gathered together in large numbers, some wearing their Chitenge outfits tailored to each one’s preference, while others wore their various uniforms with t-shirts carrying the slogan of the day and their military uniforms. The men did not go unnoticed either as they stood side-by side to support the women. By mid morning, one would have to be like Zacharias from the bible to see all the activities that were going on in the busy streets of Lusaka, all in commemoration of the International Women’s Day celebrations.

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and rise of radical ideologies.

An initiative was raised to recognise women and established, which is now known and celebrated annually as ‘Women’s Day’. A great thunder sought to give a woman the many appraisals that she desires yet it is only one day of the whole 365 days.  “It is that one day when she expects to receive breakfast in bed, roses as a surprise and dinner one which is not cooked by her”, says Chitendi Chiyeni, a participant during the match past.

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Every year on March 8th, women and men all over the world gather together in celebrating women. This year, women and men gathered together to celebrate the theme, “Inspiring change, celebrating God’s favour on 50 years of women’s excellent achievements”. The theme is aimed at inspiring women and encouraging change in all spheres of their lives. These annual celebrations are meant to encourage women and celebrate their achievements.

In the capital city, the match past started at around 08:00 hours with the match procession moving from Lusaka ZESCO headquarters to the Agricultural show grounds main arena where the celebrations were expected to commence from.

The colourful event was attended by many delegates from the ruling Patriotic Front and the former ruling party UNIP, while other opposition political parties shunned away from the celebrations. The event was graced by the likes of the Vice president Dr Guy Scott with his wife and Gender Minister Inonge Wina. Women from all walks of life participated in this event aimed at fostering the rights of women from  various institutions and organizations including, ActionAid Zambia, Barclays Bank, the United nations (UN), Church organisations, NGOs not forgetting the over 500 women from the Ruling government (PF) women’s league, who glazed the event in their famous PF chitenges.

There was marvellous entertainment by Zambia’s women’s rights activist and musician Sista D, alongside many other local musicians who graced the event.

As a woman of power and influence, women all over the world hope that they can get better treatment, more opportunities, get recognition in all spheres of political activity as well as access to the formal and informal industries.

In Zambia, this year’s celebration having clocked fifty years, women hope to have to see the forceful enactment of laws that protect their rights. For this to happen, more women need to be empowered in all developmental aspects while still bearing in mind that the education of women and girls can inspire change in Zambia’s economic growth. This change can only come about when women have full knowledge and access to resources, for instance the Women’s Development Funding Zambia.

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As Zambians celebrate this year's International Women’s Day with the rest of the world, it is cardinal to reflect on what has been achieved in the last 50 years and the measures that are necessary to foster women to inspire the change desired.  The effort by the Zambia  Law Development commission which was set up to review the laws pertaining to women in Zambia, and collect in 2010 is one measure that needs immediate attention by the Government.

The country’s highest institution of learning, The University of Zambia (UNZA), is also such institution fighting for the rights of women, through the Equity policy, which stipulates that 70 per cent of enrolment spaces are  to be equally competed for between the male and female, while the 30% of the  spaces are automatically given to the girl child in order to promote girl child education.

However, there are still a lot of challenges that need to be addressed in order for women to achieve their full potential. Challenges such as Gender based violence, where women still constitute the majority of victims because they solely or wholly depend on the same men that abuse them. The lack of recognition of the potential that women have by society leaves them to be undermined and makes them vulnerable. Some cultural and societal norms also continue to be a huge hindrance to women development as they cannot contribute fully to matters of nation al importance as it is considered that their place is in the kitchen.

This one day celebration is not enough to commemorate women’s efforts in Zambia, and hence other institutions such as Activista Zambia women have realized this and continued to celebrate the women as they went out to Bauleni clinic to do voluntary work. Activista Zambia has been the voice of the voiceless and continues to take leading roles in helping women speak out through various activities such as workshops, forums, all in the hope of empowering women to be independent, become aware of their rights and still keep their traditional values.