Privatization in Zambia : A study to determine the participation of women in the Zambia privatization programme, 1993-1997

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Mwale-Yerokun, Dellia
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In Zambia women represent fifty-two percent of the population, yet their inclusion in political, decision-making and high value economic activities has always been limited. This has been attributed to the negative stereotyping of female roles by society, exacerbated by long-term fiscal disenfranchisement. The introduction of the privatization programme in 1992, presented an opportunity to broaden women's participation in macro economic activities and in particular high value business activities. This study was undertaken against a background where in most African countries, including Zambia, human development as it concerns gender equality is more in rhetoric than in practice. This is evidenced by the fact that there is very little literature on women's participation in macro-economic enterprise and no literature on women's participation in privatization. The objective of this study was to examine the levels of participation in this major economic development programme, to determine the extent to which females participated. It further investigated factors that influenced the comparative participation of females and males. The study was undertaken between June and December 1997. Data was collected using both the quantitative and qualitative methods, and involved the use of questionnaires and interviews, as well as review of Zambia Privatization Agency records and Government instruments on gender equality. The study demonstrates that despite the fact that the privatization programme was implemented in an environment in which Zambia had signed and ratified a number of instruments for gender equality and empowerment of women, the programme was gender blind. In the period the study was undertaken, 191 State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) were privatized. The study reveals that out of 459 individuals who bid for companies 40 were female and 138 were males. Fifty-one females and 230 males bid in the company of others, either their spouses or other business partners. In terms of actual purchasing of SOEs, only 1 female purchased as an individual while 22 males purchased as individuals. Fifty males and 11 females purchased in company of others. A total of 123 females and 592 males purchased shares in Chilanga Cement, Rothmans of Pall Mall and Zambia Sugar Company. Factors that influenced the comparative participation include capital, experience in managing companies such as parastatals and political status. Although both the female and male respondents cited lack of capital as a hindrance to purchasing companies, the situation was worse for women. The study also reveals that a number of politicians and managers of parastatals had a higher participation rate than ordinary Zambians. However, women who are under-represented in political and decision-making positions, were again marginalized in this group of participants. There was no participation of females on the Board of Directors of the ZPA. Their participation in the administrative structure and on negotiating teams was negligible. This is explained by the discovery of the study that the government structure charged with the promotion of gender equality, The Gender In Development Division, played a minor role in the development and implementation of the Zambia Privatization Programme.
Privatization -- Zambia , Women in development -- Zambia , Economic development -- Zambia