Vice-President WK Mutale Nalumango has described as embarrassing Zambia’s low proportion of women in Parliament, which is considered the lowest in Sub-Sahara Africa.
She has further challenged career women from the accounting profession to rise to help sanitize the widely perceived dirty Zambian politics.
Nalumango says it is imperative that women actively participate in decision-making as that was the backbone of success on which many great achievements are anchored.
She was speaking Thursday when she graced the fourth Forum for Zambia Women Accountants (FZWA) held at Lusaka’s Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
“Some of you may still ask why it matters for women to become politicians, elected policy makers and civil society activists; why does the world need more women in all aspects of the political process? The answer is very simple, and it is that women’s political participation result in tangible gains for democracy including better responsiveness to citizens’ needs and the more sustainable future.”
Women participation in politics also helped advance gender equality and affected both the range of policy issues that gets considered and types of solutions that are proposed.
She said there was strong evidence that as more women were elected to office, there was an increase in policy-making that emphasizes quality of life and reflected the priority of families and women in ethnic and racial minorities.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on gender and development which Zambia signed in 2008 required that member countries achieved 50 per cent women representation in decision-making positions such as Parliament and local government.
She lamented that recent statistics that showed that Zambia had achieved only 18 per cent aggregate against the SADC gender protocol.
“We are actually retrogressing in this area. We need to ensure that we actively get engaged in conversations to ensure that the requirement of the SADC protocol is attained. Nobody will give this to women on a silver platter, we have to rise. We cannot stand by the side-lines to wait and watch the Government work on this, but we must rise and ensure that every opportunity that is presented is not missed.”
She said the low levels of female political representation in Zambia were believed to be undermining the quality of democracy in the country.
“We need to change this narrative, our country is poised for greatness with the New Dawn Government and it is imperative that everyone comes on board. Personally I would like to urge the women accountants and all the other women gathered here to stop being spectators but actively participate in politics. I have heard many professional women say politics is dirty, hence they cannot participate. I am a politician and a valid example of what standing up for change is, and what you believe in can do. As you may all be aware, I am also a professional. I was a teacher, an educator who decided to do more and joined politics, do I look dirty?”
She regretted that some people call politics a game saying this was one way of doing things that affect every one.
She said since politics was important, then it was a very serious game and only the players that are dirty.
“Do you feel clean professionals? Then come in into politics and bring cleanliness into the game. Politics is a calling to serve humanity and it can’t be dirty, politics can bring genuine and real change in the livelihoods of our people,” emphasised the Vice President.
Speaking at the same function, ZiCA President, Cecilia Zimba assured the Vice President that as business and finance professionals, Accountants were charged with a responsibility to safeguard public interest as good financial management systems were important for democratic governance, macroeconomic stability, effective use and equitable distribution of national resources.
“The zero tolerance to corruption the New Dawn government has embraced will be achieved and made possible if effective public financial management systems are in place and fiscal discipline are enforced. As ZiCA we commit to support the government of the day achieve its objective. We stand ready to support and collaborate with government to design robust systems that will bring about the change that the people of Zambia would like to see,” said Ms. Zimba.
The ZiCA Chief informed the Vice President that through its objective to promote financial literacy and understanding of Finance and Accounting by non-finance personnel, FZWA has set national leaders as one of its targets.
“We would like to assist all our national leaders to be able to read and understand financial reports as these are very important in providing oversight on national and public resources. Vice President, allow me to make this appeal through your office to support ZiCA’s initiative to enhance public financial management through the provision of tailor-made training in public financial management to all relevant arms of government,” Ms. Zimba emphasised.