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ZARD Memorandum Submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights and Gender Matters on Women in Decision Making Positions in Zambia and the Governance of Non-Governmental Organisations


The inclusion of all stakeholders in the governance of the country and formulation of policy is very important for democracy and development. Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD) would like to thank the Committee for according it an opportunity to make a submission. It is our hope that as we contribute our voice to these important issues, Government will address the areas that need to be improved to ensure equality and equity among Zambians. This memorandum is organised in accordance with the Committee’s request.


Despite the efforts made by Non-governmental Organisations, the Government, regional and international bodies to promote women’s participation in development processes, gender inequalities continue to exist at all levels in all sectors of national development. In the arena of decision-making positions, gender inequalities can be noticed by the low representation of women in political and administrative governance. The Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD) has been striving to improve the situation of women in all spheres of life since 1984 through research, advocacy and capacity building.

Taking the above into consideration the Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD) hereby makes the following memorandum to the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights and Gender Matters.

a) What measures, if any, have Government and the private sector put in place to implement the provisions of the National Gender Policy in terms of promotion of women in decision making:

The Government of Zambia has made impressive progress in the realm of gender equality-based more on political commitments than legal commitments.
One notable example is that the Government created the Gender in Development Division (GIDD), a Cabinet-level office charged with overseeing gender mainstreaming in the national development process, in 1996. It further established the Gender Consultative Forum (GCF) in 2003 to provide guidance to GIDD on the implementation of gender and development activities throughout the country.

The National Gender Policy, which was promulgated by GIDD in 2000, is more specific. This policy is more of a political than a legal commitment. It includes political commitments by the Government that bear directly on the question of women’s representation in electoral politics. For example, section 2.17.2 states:

The Government recognises the need to promote equitable gender representation at all levels of decision making positions though affirmative action, the empowerment and improvement of women’s social, economic, and political status. Since 1991, the MMD Government has made an effort by appointing more women to senior management positions in various Government Institutions. However, more needs to be done to ensure that women who comprise the majority of the population are proportionately represented at all levels of decision making.

Some of the Policy measures endorsed by the National Gender Policy to remediate women’s low levels of participation in the private/corporate and public sectors include:

• development of criteria for recruitment, appointment and promotion of more women to advisory and decision-making positions;
• promotion and facilitation of continuous gender orientation programmes using appropriate channels to change people’s attitudes regarding the role of women in decision making;
• restructuring of recruitment and career development programmes to ensure that all women, especially young women and persons with disabilities, have equal access to managerial, entrepreneurial, technical and leadership training;
• encouraging development of career advancement programmes for women of all ages that include career planning, tracking, mentoring, coaching, training and retraining;
• creating a mechanism to facilitate the active participation of women at all levels of the political process, including the implementation of affirmative action; and
• ensuring equitable representation of women and men in decision making at all levels. (Section 4.16).

There is also a Strategic Plan of Action in place for the gender policy. The issue at stake is implementation and compliance to the plans.

The tendency of Government signing protocols and not implementing them derails progress. While policy commitments made by the Government are not legally binding, they do provide an important normative framework that illustrates the Government’s intent and by extension the people’s desired vision of gender equality in the political sphere.

The Zambian Constitution, which is in the process of being redrafted, is silent on the issue of women’s equal participation in politics. Moreover, no provision of the Zambian Constitution ensures substantive equality between women and men, though Article 11 does include a blanket non-discrimination clause that guarantees everyone the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms regardless of “race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed, sex or marital status” (emphasis added). Article 23 of the Constitution further guarantees that, except for certain limitations, “a law shall not make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.”

Similarly, the Electoral Act is silent on women’s voter education and women’s representation in political parties. Specifically, the Electoral Act does not require that political parties seeking registration to adhere to principles of gender equality.

We recommend that more binding measures should be put in place to increase the representation of women in decision making positions such as the full domestication of international conventions, for instance, the CEDAW, which provides for temporal positive discrimination measures for women.

The private sector also leaves much to be desired to increase women’s participation in decision making positions. However, more research needs to be done to ascertain the prevailing situation in the private sector.

b) To What extent has the 1997 SADC Declaration of 30% women representation in all decision making positions been achieved?

The SADC Gender and Development Declaration (the Declaration), a political commitment supported by all SADC members including Zambia, offers Member States specific guidance on the equal participation of women in politics. Specifically, the Declaration directs SADC leaders to ensure the “equal representation of women and men in the decision making of Member States and SADC structures at all levels, and the achievement of at least thirty percent target of women in political and decision making structures by the year 2005.”

The SADC Gender and Development Protocol (the Protocol) is the legally binding version of the SADC Gender and Development Declaration. Zambia has not yet ratified the Protocol. Nonetheless, the Government evidenced its support for the principles of the Protocol by signing the Declaration. The Protocol specifically requires governments to “put in place affirmative action measures with particular reference to women in order to eliminate all barriers which prevent them from participating meaningfully in all spheres

Zambia has not achieved the 30% women’s representation in most decision making bodies as evidence by the statistics below.

The Situation of Women in National Governance
Gender Situation in the Executive and the Civil Service

It need not be pointed out that both Zambia’s President and his Vice are male. Out of a total of 26 full Cabinet Ministers, only 5 are women, representing 19% of all Cabinet Ministers. The statistics presented in the memorandum are as at December, 2008. The situation is worse now with only two female Cabinet Ministers. The situation is similar when it comes Deputy Ministers, were only 6 (23%) are female out of a total of 26. Out of a total of 35 Permanent Secretaries in Zambia, only 7 (16%) are female, while there is no female Deputy Permanent Secretary. When it comes to District Commissioners, only 11 are female. The table below gives a summary of sex disaggregated senior positions in the Executive and Civil Service.

Table 1: Selected Gender Disaggregated Positions in the Executive and Civil Service

The President                                 0           1                 0                     1
The Vice President                          0           1                 0                     1
Cabinet Ministers                             5          21              19.23                26
Deputy Ministers                             6          20              23.07                26
Secretary to the Cabinet                  0           1                   0                   1
Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet       0           2                   0                   2
Secretary to the Treasury                0           1                   0                   1
Auditor General                              1           0                  100                 1
Permanent Secretaries                    7          35                16.67                42
Deputy Permanent Secretaries         0          24                   0                   24
Special Assistants to the President    1           3                    25                  4
District Commissioners                    11          57                16.18                68
Directors                                      23          77                    23               100
Deputy Directors                           13          58                 18.31               71
Assistant Directors                         37         140                20.90              177
Assistant Secretaries                      11          24                 31.43              35

Source: Cabinet Office

Gender Situation in the Legislature
For this wing of Government, the situation is similar to that of the Executive. Out of the 150 elected MPs, only 22 are women. Out of the eight MPs nominated by the President, 2 are female while the rest are male. This makes a total of 158 Members of Parliament, of which only 15.19% are female. Top positions in this wing of Government are as shown in table 2 below.

Table 2: Selected Gender Disaggregated Positions in the Legislature

Speaker of the National Assembly               0           1               0                1
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly    1           0              100              1
Clerk of the National assembly                    1           0              100              1
Members of Parliament                             24         134            15.19        158

Gender Situation in the Judiciary and National Commissions

The top positions of this wing of Government are evenly shared with the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice being male and female respectively. The High Court Judges are perfectly balanced with both male and female judges having 19 positions apiece. Female Magistrates represent 27.27% of all (33) the Magistrates in Zambia. In the Local Courts, females comprise 12% of judges. The table below summarises the statistics related to women’s representation in the Judiciary.
The Human Rights Commission has 7 Commissioners and of these, 2 are women. The Anti Corruption has 5 Commissioners and 2 are women. The Public Service Commission has 6 Commissioners and 1 is female. The statistics for the other Commissions are shown in table 3 below.
Table 3: Selected Gender Disaggregated Positions in the Judiciary and National Commissions

Chief Justice                                   0             1                0                      1
Deputy Chief Justice                        1             0              100                     1
High Court Judges                          19            19              50                    38
Magistrates                                     9             24            27.27                 33
Local Court Justices                         97           711            12                    808
Human Rights Commissioners             2             5              28.57                  7
Anti-Corruption Commissioners           2             3               40                      5
Public Service Commissioners             1              5              16.67                  6
Teaching Service Commissioners        0              4                0                       4
Police and Prisons Commissioners       1               6              14.29                  7
Electoral Commission of Zambia          2              6               25                      8
Commissioner for Investigation          1               0              100                     1

With the region moving from a target of 30% to 50% under the SADC Gender protocol, Zambia needs to work harder to improve its gender profile.

• Zambia has not achieved 30% women’s representation in all decision making positions except in the judiciary and Assistant Secretaries. Therefore, there is need put in place a quota system as an affirmative action to increase women’s participation.
• There should also be a quota system within political parties themselves, which could be mandated by the Electoral Act.

c) How has the Gender in Development Division been coordinating with other institutions in enhancing the participation of women in decision making levels:
The Gender in Development Division has been working cordially with NGOs at national level especially in terms of information exchange and in other activities such as workshops and national women’s events. Through the Sector Advisory Groups, plans and activities being undertaken by several organisations have been shared. However, the division needs to spread out or find mechanisms of reaching remote rural areas.


There is high staff turnover at GIDD which leads to inconsistencies and institutional memory drain resulting in inefficiency in the implantation of plans. GIDD needs more funding in order for them employee more people and decentralise.

d) Identify obstacles, if any, which impede the implementation of the SADC Declaration of 30% women representation in decision making positions.

The slow pace at which the SADC Declaration is coming to fruition has more to do with internal structures than external ones. A number of studies conducted in Zambia have commonly pointed to some factors that hinder women’s participation in decision-making positions in both administrative and political positions. These studies show that the whole decision-making arena and style is male dominated and alien to women. When it comes to politics, women often have a shorter history of participation in electoral politics than men and are less experienced in campaigning, public debate and relations with mass media. In certain instances, women themselves are ambivalent about entering the political fray. The key factors commonly cited as listed below.

• Family Responsibilities in the Home
• Lack of Support
• Lack of Information/Education
• Apathy, Lower Expectations and Less Focus by Women
• Lack of finances for campaigns.
• Little interest by the private sector to embrace gender equality in their institutions.

The causes of the under-representation of women in decision making are multi-faceted; therefore, a comprehensive strategy is required to solve the problem. Political parties must be lobbied to adopt more women to contest elections. Government needs to start moving towards the implementation of the many protocols it has signed to make them a reality for Zambian women.


a) Ascertain whether the NGOs and CSOs are sticking to their stated objectives:

As an NGO that has been in existence since 1984, we believe that most NGOs stick to their objectives, for example, since our inception our overall objective has been to uplift the status of women through research, advocacy, capacity building of individuals and communities and networking with likeminded organisations. To date, we are still focused on the same objectives so are NGOs that we have been networking with. However, objectives may be broadened and at times approaches change in order to be in line with the operational environment and emerging issues.

Recognising that NGOs like other institutions are run by human beings, mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that organisations stick to their objectives. These include governance structures such as the Board of Trustees, The Board and members for organisations like ZARD.

b) Are there adequate regulatory instruments to check the operations of these organisations:

There are adequate instruments which regulate the operations of NGOs in Zambia. To start with the NGOs are supposed to operate within the Zambian laws, every year annual reports are submitted to the Registrar of Societies which monitors if these organisations are operating within their objectives. The Registrar of Societies can make decisions to revoke or suspend the registration of an organisation it deems to be doing wrong things. The existing structure allows the government to ensure registration, while also monitoring the activities of NGOs.

NGOs themselves also have internal governance bodies which oversee their operations such as the Boards and Board of Trustee. In addition, most funders do not want to associate themselves with NGOs with suspicious dealings resulting in indirect regulation.

C) What Governance Structures are in place in the running of NGOs and CSOs?

Most NGOs have following structures in place:

1. The General Assembly which is made up of all members of the organisation and is the supreme policy making body. This body meets once every year during the Annual General Meeting to review policies of the organisation and provide checks and balances in the running of the institution. This is the body with the powers to amend the Constitution.

2. The Board of Trustees whose duties among others include upholding and promoting the good name of the organisation; to advise the executive board on any matter of concern and to hold the properties of the organisation in trust.

The Board of Trustees usually consists of eminent persons of good standing in society. For ZARD, the board of trustees is appointed by the General Assembly and comprises of two women and one man, of integrity, who are supportive of the aims and objectives of the association, and are committed to improving the situation of women in Zambia

3. The Executive Board is also elected by the General Assembly to supervise the implementation of the aims and objectives of the NGOs according to the provisions of their constitution. The Executive Board usually comprise of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson, the Secretary, the Treasurer, two committee members and the Executive Director who is an ex- officio member. For most organisations, the Executive Board stays in office for a period of two years and may only run for two tenures of office.

4. The Secretariat

The Secretariat usually headed by the Executive Director is employed to manage and conduct the NGO’s or CSO’s business in accordance with the policies and decisions taken by the executive board, and the general conference.

d) Are there internal democracy, transparency and accountability in the NGOs and CSOs?

The existence of the above structures brings about separation of powers and democracy in NGOs. This ensures transparency, accountability and democracy in the NGOs. In addition, NGOs are accountable to the Registrar of Societies, funders and beneficiaries of their work. Annual audits by independent Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) recognised Auditors are undertaken to further monitor accountability in NGOs.

Accountability is very important for NGOs because it is a prerequisite to access funding cardinal for their continued existence. Accountability in NGOs is synonymous to existence. This is because misappropriation of one donor’s funders may lead to the blacklisting of the respective NGO by other funders as well.

e) Are the operations of these organisations influenced by foreign donors:

The operations of Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs), cannot be said to be influenced by foreign donors because of the following reasons:

1. Donors normally set out their objectives and their areas of interest and then send calls for proposals for organisations interested in undertaking the proposed activities. They do not prescribe what an NGO can do or cannot do.

2. NGOs also have their own objectives and guiding principles which they abide by. These guide them when they are making applications or approaching donors for funding.

In summation, NGOs usually get funding from donors whose objectives are similar to their own. The relations are usually based on mutual interests, for example, ZARD is a research institution whose main interest is on gender and development, and consequently its donors are those who are interested in evidence based advocacy on the same subject.


To regulate NGOs and CSOs would not be consistent with the Government guiding principles of good governance and democracy. Freedoms of association and assembly and the need for autonomous bodies to provide checks and balances on the Government are not only tenets of democracy but are key to sustainable development. NGOs draw a large part of their existence to the principle of relevance. Those NGOs that are not relevant will fall on the way side and those that are strong and relevant will survive. On the aspect of funding sources, the key argument should be are they accountable by way of statutory requirements? To use any other method would not go well and may have serious backlashes that may render a bad face for the country.

Any legislation designed to coordinate the NGO sector must be facilitative, rather than regulatory for Zambia to continue having legitimate platforms for citizens to express opinion and engage on public policy issues.


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