Impact of Gender policy on women representation in decision-making positions in the zambian Public service:A case study of government Ministerial/ Institutional Headquarters

Thumbnail Image
Mshanga, Christine Chansa Mwansa
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
In spite of the fact that females constitute about 52% of the population in Zambia, their participation in decision-making positions has continued to lag far behind males. Many social scientists have argued that gender inequality in decision-making positions has contributed to retarded and distorted development. Consequently, many governments world wide have acknowledged and put in place mechanisms, through which gender equality could be attained in decision-making positions. In Zambia, the government adopted the National Gender Policy in 2000, in line with the 1997 Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) declaration, which among other things, aimed at attaining 30% female representation in decision-making positions in the civil service by 2005. To translate the gender policy into tangible benefits, various institutions and positions were established to spearhead its implementation. Four years down the line (2000-2004), only about 14%) of the decision-making positions in the civil service were held by females, thus falling far below the target. This study aimed at investigating and establishing the factors inhibiting the implementation of the gender policy by assessing the appropriateness and adequacy of the adopted structures and programmes. The research strategy used was the case study of responsible institutions at ministerial headquarters (HQ). This kind of research was chosen because it was easier and more convenient to conduct, since it aimed at assessing the appropriateness and adequacy of implementing structures and their programmes. It was also an evaluative research. The research design utilized was the quantitative approach, as quantitative data was deemed necessary to the collection of required responses and their measurement to determine the frequency distribution of variables (rate of occurrence of factors) in the population. To give equal chances to all the units in the population (civil servants based at HQ), the sampling design employed the probability sampling method, which in turn utilized the stratified random sampling technique. This is because the population was deemed to be heterogeneous enough to hold divergent views on the subject. Nevertheless, a small sample of Gender Focal Point Persons (GFPP) was purposively selected due to its critical role in gender programmes implementation. The selected sample of 120 respondents was given self-administered questionnaires, with the help of desk officers, to return them within a stipulated period. Follow ups were made where clarification was required. The questionnaires were structured and contained both closed ended and open ended questions. The responses were coded, classified, analyzed and interpreted, in order to derive meaning and provide an explanation of the research findings. The research findings indicate that the structures put in place to spearhead gender programmes implementation, such as Gender Consultative Forum and Gender in Development Division lack adequate capacity to do so, hence proved inadequate and inappropriate to the task at hand. Lack of adequate funding, staffing, gender analytical skills, and data base, clear and specific terms of reference, coupled with inadequate time due to too many responsibilities and lack of linkages with other stakeholders, have contributed to the failure to implement the gender programmes effectively. It was also established that males continue to perceive females as inferior, hence unwilling to have female managers. The findings also indicated that females are perceived to be less qualified and experienced, lack self drive and support from fellow women, and above all continue to face institutional discrimination through company policies and practices. The study established that the above mentioned factors have contributed to inhibit the promotion of females into decision-making positions in the civil service. It was argued however, that if gender programmes were sufficiently implemented, including capacity building programmes for females and gender sensitization of male employees, most of the negative factors mentioned would become irrelevant or disappear. It was concluded that the failure to attain 30% female representation in decision-making positions in the civil service, was influenced by the failure of responsible institutions to implement gender programmes. In short, equitable representation in decision-making positions in the civil service has not been achieved due to lack of adequate capacity of implementing institutions and positions. The study recommended that among other things, sufficient resources, time and authority to implement gender programmes must be given to the responsible institutions and positions. Unless the policy-makers become truly committed and take necessary actions to sufficiently empower the implementing institutions and positions, the attainment of equitable representation in decision-making positions in the Civil Service shall continue to be an elusive dream.
Gender-Zambia , Decision Making Positions