The role of political parties in the enhancement of women representation in the parliament of Zambia.

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Brill, Pauline
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The University of Zambia
This study aimed at finding out the role of political parties in the enhancement of women representation in the parliament of Zambia. The continued underrepresentation of women in the Zambian Parliament prompted undertaking this study. The study confined itself to looking at the role of two major political parties, the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND). The 2016 general elections were the main focus of the study. The study was qualitative and a case study research design was used to study the two major political parties in depth. PF and UPND party officials at different levels of party hierarchies were purposefully selected as participants. Primary data was collected through in-depth interviews while secondary data was collected from political party and ECZ documents. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data and frequency tables and charts were also used for presentation purposes. Feminist theory and the concept of affirmative action guided the study. The affirmative action measures said to be used by the two political parties included; having at least 30 percent women in decision-making positions, the adoption of the women‟s wing concept, training and sensitisation, adoption of women in political party strongholds and relaxing of requirements for one to be adopted when considering women for adoption. Further, following the 2016 General elections, the PF made a pronouncement that the party would adopt 40% women as parliamentary candidates. The PF manifesto also stated that the party would be adopting many women to ensure that the party met the regional thresholds. On the other hand, the UPND Constitution stated that the party would use affirmative action wherever necessary to ensure that there was 30 percent women representation in decisionmaking positions. The study further found that the two political parties each adopted only 28 women out of 156 seats available to be contested in the 2016 parliamentary elections. Consequently, the number of women elected to parliament was also not only far below the earlier SADC target of 30 per cent women in politics and decision-making positions by 2005 but also below the 50/50 SADC target of women in politics and decision-making positions by 2015. Looking at the number of women adopted by political parties and consequently the fewer numbers sent to parliament, the study concluded that there was no real affirmative action employed by political parties. Political parties themselves pointed out that they were finding it difficult to play a major part in the enhancement of women representation due to, among other things, the entrenched socio-cultural beliefs, lack of funding, a hostile political environment and a competitive political environment. This study urges political parties to revise their rules and ensure clearly stated practical affirmative action measures to ensure the enhanced representation of women in parliament.
Gender -- Politics -- Zambia , Women politicians. , Women--Political activity. , Representative government and representation.