Women and the liberation struggle in Zambia: a historical study of their roles and significance 1948 - 1964.
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The study examines the significant roles played by women in the liberation struggle of Zambia. It argues that the role of women in the fight for Zambia’s independence struggle has been neglected in spite of the oral data from the actual participants and few records which prove their participation in this period. The study further argues that the literature on women participation in this domain is scanty. Many writers suggest that women had no impact or played insignificant roles in precolonial societies. The study has revealed that the main reasons for such a notion is that precolonial societies were steeped in patriarchal order which discriminated women’s roles to domestic spheres. Mainly the platforms of politics were considered as just for men while the women’s platform was considered to be private. Hence public platforms such as politics were not considered as places for women but for men. However, women still participated and had great influence and impact in politics. The study reveals that women played significant roles for the fight of Zambia’s independence. The inception of women’s participation in public politics has been attributed to the civil disturbances which took place in the Copperbelt. The evidence shows that women contributed greatly towards the struggle for better working conditions in the mines of Northern Rhodesia. This was their beginning of active participation in politics of this country. Women were incorporated in the labour strikes and the Welfare Societies that fought colonialism and its discrimination. When political parties were formed to fight colonialism in Zambia, women still continued to work with men to liberate Zambia from colonial masters. The study also shows that most political parties which were formed in Zambia incorporated the women in their activities. In the African National Congress (ANC), Zambia African National Congress (ZANC) and United National Independence Party (UNIP), women played crucial roles in party mobilisation, dissemination of information, provided and cooked food for the men in detention and those who were hiding in the bush from the wrath of colonial authorities. They helped in raising funds which were used for the smooth running of the political activities. The women also played an important role in organising other women who took part in the protests, picketing, rioting and demonstrations as a way to rebel against colonialism and its systems. The study concluded that despite women facing many challenges coming from patriarchal phenomenon, their participation in the struggle for independence contributed to various achievements which are still visible to date. This is because when Zambia gained independence many of the patriarchal norms which suppressed them were relaxed.
The University of Zambia
National Women's Lobby Group (Zambia).