THE Patriotic Front had finally made known its running mate-her honour, the Vice-President, Inonge Wina. She will run alongside President Lungu in the August 11 general elections.
Though the name was only unveiled a few days ago, the hint that the ruling party’s running mate would be a woman was earlier given by President Lungu when he officiated at a women’s group during a breakfast meeting early this year.
At that meeting, President Lungu assured the women who attended the breakfast meeting that he would continue to support women and the announcement affirms that proclamation.
Mrs Wina was appointed republican vice-president on January 26 last year.
Mrs Wina is the country’s female first vice president but now with the announcement, she also becomes the first vice presidential candidate running alongside President Lungu.
While not advocating a wholesome appointment of women to the second rung of power at national level, the women movement is happy that at long last, one of their own has finally ascended there.
The call for women to get to higher positions is not for all and sundry, but for those who have demonstrated that they are equal to the task. This is what we all see in Mrs Wina.
She has served the country well as Vice-President and commanding respect and honour from all. Whether within or outside the borders of our land; she has shown the ability to handle her tasks.
But the revelation of her role in the general elections places other political parties under the microscope.
Women in politics outnumber men. What is disappointing is that despite this, their input in most political parties is relegated to the lower ranks.
Here, their contribution is of no impact because they cannot participate in decision-making. This is a place where they can only sing and dance. Their role, in many cases, does not extend beyond this.
But this, however, does not mean such women who find themselves in the lower positions are all incapable of making contributions that affect the general party membership.
The possibility of having some women who are capable of proving their worth exists in a number of political parties. These are the women who deserve to be pushed to the higher levels of party structures where the most important decisions are made.
There are a number of women who have proved themselves in many other sectors. These women deserve to be given the latitude so that they can show the world how much they can contribute to national development.
While development is also for the benefit of women, their participation in the process is cardinal. No one can push their development agenda but the women themselves.
This task is not only for one person. Greater gains can be made through collective effort.
This is why attention has now shifted to other political parties to see where they place the women within their hierarchies. This responsibility squarely lies on leaders of political parties.
A high standard has been set for all political parties. The appointment of Mrs Wina as the first female vice-president was a milestone for women empowerment in Zambia. And now another milestone, the announcement of a female running mate, adds to the list of achievements.
It is paramount for all to consider the fact that Mrs Wina is not only the first female running mate but the first running mate under the amended constitution. This is no mean achievement.
The PF has set an example to all political parties and it deserves commendation from all those who advocate women empowerment.
The empowerment of women in the political arena is one of the most important points to begin from. It can motivate entities and other organisations to embark on a similar path.
It casts any political party in positive light as one where women’s contribution to national issues is cherished. Women in such a political party are viewed as equal partners in development.
As implied earlier, development without women is not development. Women do not aspire to take over from men. Those who have what it takes to ascend to higher office should be allowed to be part of the development process. This is the equality of partnership in the development process.
Moreover, governance entails the empowerment of women. The appointment of women to higher positions gives them the authority to participate in decision-making and raises their status.
Institutions have the ability to outlive those that run them. People come and go, leaving institutions to live on much longer. Because of this, there is need for continuity.
Continuity can be preserved by setting aside a nest where the younger ones can be nurtured. Grooming younger people, in this sense, younger women, prepares them for future responsibilities. Our political leaders shoulder place this task upon themselves.
How else can we apply the axiom ‘Imiti ikula empanga’ (The youth are the future leaders) if their leaders do not begin now to show them how things are done.
Grooming the youth for leadership has the potential to make them focused and dependable. They can become responsible and keep out of illegal activities. All this is because they have someone they can look up to.
The youth are motivated by someone they look up to. This places a burden on women in politics to do all they can to be role models to younger people.
Hard work is one of the avenues towards success and the youth need to see their models in this light. According to President Lungu, Mrs Wina was chosen because she has shown that she is equal to the task. One of the traits she has exhibited is hard work.
This is important for the younger women to understand. There is no cutting corners to success.
For now, prospects of women to ascend higher remain brighter. However, the pursuit for more women representation continues and the powers that be should help women achieve their goal.