Representative from the Provincial Education Office
Representatives from the District Education Board Secretary
Deans of Students
Civil Society Organisations
Members of the Press
May I simply say Ladies and Gentlemen, all Protocols observed
It is my singular honor and privilege to welcome you distinguished guests to this meeting on network of female students. Indeed, your presence in this meeting shows the importance you attach to issues of equal representation by both female and male students in leadership positions in higher learning institutions.
For those of you who may not be aware, ZANEC is a Coalition of non-state actors working in the Education and Skills Sector. The organisation is involved in research, advocacy and member capacity building on different aspects of the Education and Skills Sector in Zambia. ZANEC members comprise of Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Faith Based Organizations (FBO’s), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Teacher Trade Unions and Student Unions. The membership of ZANEC currently stands at 91 Member Organisations spread across the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) working with the Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU) through its continued advocacy on academic freedom established the Network of Female Students to increase female student participation in student structures. Female students as leaders are critical in advancing gender justice and gender equality in the once male-dominated spaces. ZANEC has been having meetings to encourage female students to participate in leadership positions through the Network of Female Students. The recent meetings were held in Livingstone and at national level in Lusaka last year (2022). Through the network, a number of female students are now able to participate in decision-making positions. For the first time, Copperbelt University has a female President while the University of Zambia, Evelyn Hone College, Lusaka Vocational and Technical College as well as Kabwe Institute of Technology have female Vice Presidents in their student unions. In the 2021 Student Elections, ZANASU had its first female Vice Board Secretary and Treasurer.
However, even with the accomplishments stated above, it is sad to note that after 57 years of independence, the country only has 15% of women as Members of Parliament. Similarly, the entire ZANASU Congress and Executive put together has only two females out of 13 positions, representing 15%. To make matters worse there are only 5 female Cabinet Ministers out of 35 representing 14%. This is despite Zambia being a signatory to various protocols on Gender Equality such as the SADC Gender Protocol that provides for the 50–50 representation of men and women.
There are a number of factors or barriers that have contributed to low female participation in leadership positions such as:
- Sexual or gender-based violence: Sexual harassment, hostile work and learning environments.
- Cultural beliefs: In most cultures men are considered to be more superior than women and discriminatory attitudes and norms are carried on.
- Stereotypes: Because more men have been in leadership for so long, the leadership traits are thought of as masculine and not viewed favourably when exhibited by women.
- Lack of sponsorship or mentors to inspire young women and girls to participate in issues that concern them.
- Lack of education, information and resources.
It is in this vein that ZANEC has continued to support Female Student Network in Zambia whose aim is to inspire female leaders on the importance of holding leadership positions and female student empowerment in student structures.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The aim of this meeting is to sensitize female students on the importance of increased participation in student politics, leadership, and decision-making positions. Strengthen the female network and its coordination in Central Province as well as other parts of the country. Identify measures to strengthen female participation in student unionism. The expected outcomes are:
- A common perspective on the role of female students in leadership.
- Strategies to continue strengthening female participation in student unionism in higher learning institutions.
- An understanding of patriarchal structures and dismantling gender norms.
- Action plan for promoting female participation in higher learning institutions.
This meeting will be characterized by presentations on female students’ active participation in Leadership positions in colleges and universities. And another presentation on Female Network and its purpose. ZANEC is pleased because we are expected to come up with action points that we are encouraged to share in our higher learning institutions that we are representing and ensure more students act upon them to foster female participation.
Ladies and Gentlemen
ZANEC is grateful to the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) for their financial support which has made it possible to hold this meeting today. We further thank them for the rest of the support that they have given the Coalition to promote education through research and advocacy particularly in higher learning institutions in Zambia.
I urge us all to fully participate in the deliberations as your contributions will help promote equal participation of male and female students in leadership positions.
Thank you and God Bless youFind Us on Social Media