Twelve young Zambian feminists involved in the JASS Southern Africa leadership training have formed a new group: Generation Alive! Chanda Katongo, a member of the new group described the impact of the training on her life, “things may change about me because of what I have learnt . . . the outstanding thing is that we are now taking action.” The new group’s goal is to increase the number of young women in leadership positions in politics and in civil society. Their target is to get at least ten young Zambian women running for office in the 2016 Parliamentary elections!
The idea of creating Generation Alive! was an outcome of the JASS Southern Africa movement building initiative carried out over the last two years. At the outset of the process, the women were asked to imagine what kinds of positive change they could achieve together for young Zambian women. They quickly put forth and coalesced around the idea of getting young women politically active and running for office.
“Things may change about me because of what I have learnt . . . the outstanding thing is that we are now taking action.” ~ Chanda Katongo describing the impact of the training on her life
The new group’s focus on women’s political participation comes at a very opportune time in Zambia, where Parliamentary and local elections will be held in early 2011. It is in line with a push by international and national organizations concerned with women’s political participation, including the United Nations, and very much in line with JASS’ focus in the last three years through support by the MDG3 Fund.
Some of these groups are campaigning to compel political parties to present an electoral slate that is 50% female for the upcoming elections. The Zambian government committed to this goal back in 2006, three years before it was the goal set by the fourteen other nations which form the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The current Zambian National Parliament is 14% women but at the local government level a mere 7% of councillors are women. There are many built-in obstacles that hinder the meaningful participation of women as candidates, including a lack of exposure and training to political organizing, limited availability of campaign funding, and a surge this year in election-related violence. These are challenges that the members of Generation Alive and the candidates they help develop will have to confront and tackle as they move forward.
JASS Southern Africa will continue to assist and accompany the strategizing and action of this group, guiding their efforts to carefully map the political context and identify opportunities for political education and participation, in the hopes of getting young women access to these resources. The women are also planning a media campaign with a funky, youthful vibe, which will be developed with JASS and our Zambian partner, Youth Vision, with whom most are already active.
Watch this space for future updates!