By CHUSA SICHONE -
VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina has requested the Commonwealth to assist Zambia with youth and women empowerment programmes, especially in skills development.
Ms Wina also appealed to the Commonwealth to help Zambia in the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
Speaking when Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland called on her in Lusaka yesterday, Ms Wina further appealed to the Commonwealth to help in promoting women in politics as that was critical to leverage equality in governance and political participation.
Ms Wina said that Zambia had made a lot of progress towards rights and empowerment of women and youth, including elimination of child, early and forced marriage.
“However, Zambia has not done very well in harnessing the potential of women who comprise half of the country’s population. The President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has made great strides in not only championing for women’s rights, but taking practical steps in appointing women to positions of leadership.
“However, there is need to adopt laws in our country and policies that empower women and enhance their leadership roles and equitable participation in governance, politics and in the labour force,” she said.
Ms Wina implored the Commonwealth to reopen the Commonwealth Youth Centre in Zambia, which was closed following reforms in the Commonwealth, saying the relevance of such institutions should not be overlooked.
She said Zambia recently launched the Seventh National Development Plan through which the plight of the vulnerable, particularly the women, children and youths, especially in rural areas would be the main targets of the five-year development blueprint.
Ms Wina pledged Zambia’s commitment to the Commonwealth’s core values and principles as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, which Zambia had mainstreamed into domestic legislation, policies and procedure.
Ms Wina also assured Ms Scotland that Zambia was looking forward to participating in the April 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London.
In response, Ms Scotland said all the issues Ms Wina had mentioned were also of great importance to the Commonwealth, citing ending violence against women and girls, among others, as a significant part all the Commonwealth Member States should seek to challenge and address.
Ms Scotland said the Commonwealth Member States shared a number of similarities which made them easier and cheaper to trade amongst themselves but bemoaned trade imbalance that existed amongst them.