The promotion of gender equity in the workplace: The case of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing Headquarters in Zambia
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It has been argued that gender equity in human resource management can improve efficiency and increase productivity of employees while taking into account their individual needs. Gender equity entails a situation where women and men have fair conditions for realising their full human rights and potential to contribute to and benefit from the socio-economic, cultural and political development of a nation, taking into account their similarities, differences and varying roles in society. Although the Government has ratified international conventions on gender equity and enacted the National Gender Policy (NGP), 2000, the share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector was only 30% by 2007, yet they are the majority in the population. There was little empirical information regarding the implementation of the NGP, particularly pronouncements on Labour, Employment, and Social Security.The overall objective of this study was to examine the efforts in place to promote gender equity in the workplace in Zambia using the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) headquarters as a case study. Specifically, the study sought to identify measures in place to improve gender equity; and to evaluate the extent to which these measures have created a conducive environment for both men and women to work effectively. The study was based on the assumption that women and men require different environments and incentives in order to realise their full potential at work. Although similar studies have been done, the literature review showed that there was a gap in comprehensively understanding the promotion of gender equity in the work place. Most studies undertaken did not identify the measures in place and how these measures contributed towards gender equity.The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and was undertaken in Lusaka and Chongwe. Secondary data were collected from Cabinet Office, MLGH and the University of Zambia. Questionnaires and interview guides were used for primary data collection. A pretest was conducted to ascertain the adequacy of the instruments. 42 percent of employees were selected using stratified random sampling, by division and gender. Quantitative and qualitative data collected were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and qualitative methods respectively.Findings show that achievements include the revision of human resources policies and procedures; gender equity considerations in appointments and promotions; appointment of the Gender Focal Point Person to spearhead gender related activities. Major challenges include inadequate gender skills among personnel expected to implement gender activities; inadequate financial resources for implementation; and institutional challenges at Gender in Development Division. In conclusion, the major factor hindering the promotion of gender equity in the workplace is the partial integration of gender in the Ministry’s human resources policies and procedures coupled with inadequate financial resources. The study recommends for the undertaking of a holistic gender analysis of MLGH to find evidence based solutions; Government should allocate adequate resources to implement policy measures to promote gender equity in the workplace; and decentralization of some human resource functions from PSMD to MLGH would improve the gender balancing of staff in the various divisions.