SADC Works for 30 Percent Women Representation

By George Chellah And Inonge Noyoo
Published August 16th 2005 in
WE shall not achieve real democracy as a region without the input of women, Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional women parliamentarians vice chairperson Maria Lourdes Veiga has said.

And Veiga urged the media to assist in consolidating a new attitude in order to establish equality.

During a meeting with the Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC) at the secretariat yesterday, Veiga who is leading a nine-member delegation said the aim of the regional women Parliamentarians caucus's was to achieve 30 per cent representation by the end of this year.

She said the caucus was working towards 30 per cent representation especially since the region was currently enjoying an enabling democratic environment.

"We are here to know at what extent you have reached and we would like to hear from you whether in Zambia the electoral reform allows the attainment of the 30 per cent women representation," Veiga said.

"We shall not achieve real democracy in our region if there is no participation of women in the country."

Veiga further said the women's caucus expected good examples from Zambia particularly since the country played a crucial role during the liberation of Southern Africa.

"We hope that the Zambian political leaders and parliamentarians understand issues affecting women and should give a chance to women in decision-making positions. For the women, its only when we are united that we shall win," she said.

She also urged the media in the region to give a good image of women.

"The press should play a vital role in society so that we consolidate a new attitude in order to establish equality," she said.

Lesotho's minister of employment Mpeo Mohase, who is also part of the delegation backed Veiga's remarks on the media.

Mohase said there was need for equal media coverage.

"Yes we are being covered but half of that is negative," she said.

And ERTC Chairperson, Mwangala Zaloumis said the electoral system should be gender sensitive.

"With these recommendations women would not only be confined to the proportional representation but would also have the privilege to participate in the first-past-the-post electoral system," she said.

Meanwhile, ERTC member Dr Mutumba Bull said factors such as the high cost of election campaigns; high poverty and illiteracy levels among women and traditional stereotypes had contributed to women being sidelined.

The visiting delegation comprises Maria Lourdes Viega from Angola, Nosipho Mtwambi from South Africa, Mpeo Mohase from Lesotho and officials from the SADC parliamentary forum and the Angolan National Assembly among them: Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, and Boena Mandu Sekgoma.