By Victoria Phiri
Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) has embarked on a number of activities to address some of the factors that disadvantaged women candidates in the 2016 general elections. In January, the ZNWL conducted of two activities in North-Western and Luapula Provinces aimed at further building the capacities of aspiring women candidates and enhancing women’s cross party collaboration. The activities were conducted under the USAID funded Count Me In project which seeks to increase the political leadership skills of women who wish to stand as parliamentary and local government candidates in the six selected districts of Zambia.
One of activities conducted was couple mentoring in which the ZNWL is facilitating a network of women in politics where ideas are exchanged and experiences shared. In this intervention, aspiring women candidates are being mentored by women and men who have vast experience and knowledge in politics.The ZNWL hopes to enhance the knowledge and skills of women aspiring candidates through this activity.
The ZNWL has continued to coordinate Women in Politics Forums (WIPS) whose aim is to facilitate a platform for women from different political parties to build a common agenda as the challenges facing women in politics are similar. To enhance this cooperation between women from different political parties, the ZNWL conducted WIPs forums in both North-Western and Luapula provinces. The engagements were interactive and focused on ensuring that more women politicians are better prepared for the 2021 general elections. The meetings were attended by executive members of the political party women’s wings and women aspiring candidates.
Participants to the two activities were pleased that ZNWL had already begun the process of mobilizing and grooming the female aspiring candidates as this would increase their chances of success in the 2021 general elections. “We are happy that we are laying the ground early and tackling the challenges of the 2016 elections’’ said Patriotic Front District Chairperson for Mansa District Alice Chipulu. Aspiring candidate for the position Council Chairperson in Kasempa District Fanny Mwelumuka said the mentorship and interaction with other female politicians through the WIPs had motivated her to go back to school and obtain a grade 12 certificate. Ms. Mwelumuka said she had received a lot of encouragement from Kasempa Member of Parliament Ms. Brenda Tambatamba who has been actively involved in mentoring female aspiring candidates.
Results from the couple mentorship activity include transference of skills, knowledge and experience which is helping candidates prepare for their candidature.
Arina Nyikosa, a former councilor in Solwezi says the ZNWL’s interventions in the District were bearing fruit. “Women need to be prepared and be two steps ahead of the men, this is what we are seeing with these programmes being implemented by ZNWL” She said. Ms. Nyikosa said she was happy to serve her community through mentoring aspiring female politicians.
ZNWL hopes that through these interventions, more women will successfully contest in the 2021 general elections at various levels and also aspire for leadership positions in their political parties and communities.