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Women Rights and Decentralization in Zambia: Bridging the Gaps between Local Politics, Institutional Design and Gender Outcomes

The adoption of decentralisation reform in Zambia provides women (and men) with new opportunities for political participation. However, in the absence of legislation to support electoral gender quotas as a fast track to gender-balanced decision making structures, it will likely be a long and incremental process of negotiation to transform the process into ‘women friendly.’ 

We at ActionAid Zambia believe that, for our country to achieve its development goals there is need for deepening decentralisation and inclusive governance, where all men and women recognise each other as mutually and equally responsible for the destiny of the country and sustainable development.

However, it is clear that unless the decentralization policy include specific measures to mainstream gender, women’s participation in local development processes will remain minimal. Similarly, without such provisions, local plans, budgets and monitoring systems will not adequately reflect women’s interests or priorities. Women’s access to the services that allow them to fulfill their reproductive and productive roles will also remain constrained.

How Can Local Governments Support Gender Equitable Local Development?

·         Local planning processes need to pay close attention to persistent gender inequalities, gender biases and the different needs of men and women, boys and girls.

·         Local level gender-responsive budget initiatives attempt to ensure that gender-based inequalities are addressed and integrated into Local Development Plans (LDPs). Gender responsive budgeting requires government officials to think about finances in a new way, and consider how budgets address the needs of male and female citizens.

·         Local governments should ensure that planning and budgeting decisions are based gender analysis as a  basis for gender-equitable local developments


Role of Political Parties

 Political parties need to observe and promote women’s participation in their parties through enshrining into their manifestos equality quotas as a commitment meant to promote women’s participation.