Why are our Political Parties Sexist?

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Author Godfrey Chitalu

MOST Zambian men have a sexism problem. But allowing this sexism to be nationally entrenched and pervasive through political parties is a bigger problem.

This prejudice and systematic discrimination against women has now been taken to a whole new level by all our political parties. Political numbers don’t lie.

How many women councilors and members of parliament have been or will be adopted by our political parties? Out of idle curiosity and in fulfilling my pleasure to write, the lists in my possession are a far cry from societal expectations. No matter what mathematics is done, the horse has already bolted.

Although sexism has various definitions I consider the basic one as the best: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex. Such hostilities based on one’s sex or gender have prevented women from representing masses.

When you add other factors like lack of finances; rigorous nomination formalities, violence and masculinity pitfalls – awe mwandi! Most of us perhaps are too busy to realize that this normal we have accepted is actually not normal. What can our major political parties like PF and UPND say in defense? The masculinity involved in the nomination processes have surely punctured many women contenders. 

Parties had all the time and resources to look at women participation with focused eyes. Is what you have and are giving us a societal reflection of our desires? I have been thinking a lot about political parties and sexism. It seems the men in our major political parties will soon be muscling their way to parliament while women sing and dance. I know with certainty that both UPND and PF could have easily allowed more women representation than the current status. No apologies guys! 

Let’s look at this issue critically! What is it that you want women to do so that they are easily adopted? How are we going to break this male leadership domination? In this election I expected all political parties to introduce quota systems for all elective positions. Parties should have ensured that internally women are proportionately represented in all elective positions through voluntary quotas. We should learn to walk the talk on women inclusion instead of paying lip service.

When we do the maths, on average we’ve had only 12% of women in parliament since the advent of multi-party politics in 1991. Add 6.67% in 1991, 10.67% in 1996, 12.67% in 2001, 14% in 2006, 10.76% in 2011 and 16.67% in 2016 and you have your 12%, even if I failed mathematics! Perhaps my discourse is very late but I would have loved to see the figure rise to around 40%. In the previous elections we saw that there were very few women, although the 2016 percent has been the highest since multi-party politics started. 

The good part is that the two wrestlers; UPND and PF, not in any hierarchical order, seem intent on giving us women presidential running mates. Is this enough? The simple answer, when you look at the bigger picture is NO! It is a Fufu Verve for lack of a better term, or like a grain on Samfya beach. Have you been to Samfya Beach? Google now!

The author is a social commentator who writes for pleasure.

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