Welcome remarks read by the ZANEC Board Chairperson for Skills and Tertiary Subsector Committee, Mrs. Christine Nabeba Mwasiti Menda during the Advocacy Meeting on Enhancing Female Student Participation in Student Union Leadership held on 23rd September, 2021

Welcome remarks read by the ZANEC Board Chairperson for Skills and Tertiary Subsector Committee, Mrs. Christine Nabeba Mwasiti Menda during the Advocacy Meeting on Enhancing Female Student Participation in Student Union Leadership held on 23rd September, 2021

Ministry of Education (MoE) Representative

Members of Parliament Present

Student Leaders Present from various universities and colleges

Civil Society Organisations Present

Members of the Press

May I simply say Ladies and Gentlemen, all Protocols observed

It is my honor and privilege to welcome you distinguished guests to this Advocacy Meeting on Enhancing Female student participation in students’ union leadership. Your presence in this meeting shows the importance you attach to issues of equal participation in leadership positions by both female and male students in higher learning institutions.

Through ZANEC continued advocacy on academic freedom in higher learning institutions, it has come to our attention that very few female students participate in union leadership. Further, female representation in power and decision making in Zambia since independence in 1964 has not been impressive. This is because women have been and still are under-represented at all levels of decision making in government, parliament, political parties, public and private institutions.  In the recent general elections that Zambia had on 12th August 2021, only 15% of women Parliamentarians were elected. Similarly, only 4 females aspired to stand for elections during the ZANASU election held in July, out of which 2 were elected as Deputy Secretary General and Gender Secretary, meaning the entire ZANASU Congress and Executive put together has only two females out of 13 positions, representing 15%. This shows how far we are from reaching the internationally recommended minimum standard of 50% both at national and institutional levels. The unequal representation has been attributed to a number of factors including stereotypes, patriarchal structures and cultural values, scarcity of resources, traditional family roles and low education and literacy levels among women compared to men.

It is for this reason that ZANEC supported the formation of a Female Student Network in Zambia whose aim is to educate female students and aspiring female leaders on the importance of holding leadership positions and female student empowerment in student structures.  In fact, most of the female student leaders we have today are part of this network.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This meeting seeks to find means and ways of increasing female participation in leadership in tertiary institutions. Therefore, the aim of this meeting is to advocate for more female participation in student unionism as well as look at challenges that deter female students from participating or adequately representing female related issues in student leadership. The expected outcomes include:

  1. To advocate for more female participation in student unionism in their various institutions of higher learning.
  2. To share best practices that would enable more female students to participate in student leadership.
  3. Two good lessons to encourage female participation discussed and actioned.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are happy that the decision makers such as MPs, University Department under the Ministry of Education and various higher institution management, lecturers, student leaders and ordinary students are in this meeting. This will   foster dialogue and chart the way forward to encourage female student participation in student leadership.                                                                                                     

Ladies and Gentlemen

This meeting will have short presentations by some of our current female student leaders on issues that frustrate Female Leaders as well as when representing female issues in Union Student Leadership.

ZANEC is grateful to Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) for the financial support which has made it possible to hold this advocacy meeting today.

We therefore, urge all of us that are present in this meeting to participate actively as your contributions will make a big difference in improving the gender balance in student leadership.

Thank you and God Bless you

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