Factors determining women's participation in decision making in Zambia Revenue Authority

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Nyirenda, Brenda
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Many African societies limit the roles of women to domestic work and raising children while men are left to handle all the decision making processes. This perspective has been cemented by such opinions as “the societal conventions regarding gender and leadership, traditionally exclude women, and top leadership is viewed as a masculine domain” (Hojgaard, 2002), and that of Ngcongo (1993) who insinuate that should men lead while women follow. Practices such as men walking in front of women and sayings like “behind every successful man is a woman”, depict the roles and positions that have been assigned to both gender parties. In this study we examine the factors determining the participation of women in decision making in the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). The study employs a descriptive case-study research design utilising qualitative analysis of factors that contribute to low participation of women in decision making in ZRA headquarters in Lusaka district, Zambia. The population of study included Board Members, senior management members of staff along with intermediate management members of staff, technical staff and support staff members purposely selected to acquire key information across the entire institution. Care was taken to limit the subjects to fulltime workers in ZRA. The sample size was depicted largely by the availability of resources but was considered adequate to capture the existing group variability. Methods including focus groups, interviews, observation and documented resources were used to collect information from the sample population. From the results, it was established that women do not play a major role in decision making roles in ZRA. This was shown by the occupation of most executive positions by men. The governing board had no female members at the time of the study. The senior management members were comprised customarily of men and virtually with no women have ever occupied the top position of commissioner general. There are several cultural, economic, political and social factors contributing to the low participation of women in decision making roles in ZRA. These include lack of ambition, poor qualifications, timidity, family commitment, lack of experience, company policies and practices, and public and personal perceptions of women in decision making roles as well as financial benefits that are doubled in gratuity and pension accompanied by less work in lower positions. Improving the financial benefits, implementing affirmative action in the institution and creating incentives to aspire women to take up higher positions as well as changing the social and cultural perspective of women in decision making roles would increase the participation of women in decision making roles in ZRA
Gender-Zambia , Decision making-Zambia