There is no doubt that the cure for poverty has for many decades continued to elude Zambia and many other African countries.
Yet very few Zambians will admit that the antidote for poverty has a name. It’s called the ‘empowerment of women’.
So the revelation by Chirundu district commissioner Alfred Hamunjo that government is more than resolute to alleviate poverty through empowering of women by giving them soft loans makes a lot of sense.
Mr Hamunjo says women in the district, if not in the entire Zambia are equally ready to be empowered to contribute to economic development.
The government therefore should do that because the informal employment is more common for women than for men and that the low pay and lack of legal protection makes women more vulnerable and open to exploitation.
Like it has often been said that when you educate a woman, you educate the nation, it is important that women are given exceptional attention in this regard.
It is because of such lack of empowerment that some women find themselves in such desperate straits, that they’re driven into prostitution and other vices.
While causes of poverty can differ from country to country, but empowering women and girls is one cause that transcends borders, impacting all nations.
We think in both rich and poor countries, a key to poverty mitigation is in convincing people that they will benefit from empowering women.
Statistics show that 70% of the world’s poorest people are women mostly distributed in in Africa, Asia, and South America, where they live in poverty, unable to meet basic needs for food and shelter.
As many as three million women die each year because of gender-based violence, and four million girls and women are sold into commercial sex trafficking annually due to lack of empowerment.
One woman in five is a victim of rape or attempted rape during her lifetime. Gender-based violence takes more of a toll on women’s health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.
Government should therefore take it upon itself like it has promised in Chirundu to help improve opportunities and incentives for young women to have children only when they can assure their well-being.
It should also seriously look at improve women farmers’ training and equipment to facilitate natural resource management, help increase crop yields to help fight poverty in the nation.
There is no lack of evidence that the empowerment of women is effective in bringing countries out of poverty.
It is for the same lack of empowerment that currently women are too often not able to reach their potential in critical growth-driving careers as engineers, doctors, innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs.
The Zambian women too must take Mr Hamunjo’s change challenge seriously for them to realize advancement and empowerment by getting involved in new technologies as government wishes to achieve gender balance and equality.
Empowerment of women, we think, is enormously Zambia’s antinode to poverty alleviation.
The fight against poverty should be tackled seriously by ensure that is eradicated or significantly reduced. And as we have said, this can effectively be done by empowering the women with necessary capital for investment.