Representatives of the Zambia Women Parliamentary Caucus (ZWPC) visited Finland in June to learn about Finnish equality practices and women’s cross-party collaboration, especially at the parliamentary level. The delegation consisted of Hon. Minister of Gender and Child Development Nkandu Luo and Member of the Parliament Moono Lubezhi.
During the three-day visit, the Zambian politicians were introduced to Finnish equality practices at the national level, in the political parties as well as in the society in general. The delegation visited the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Parliament, various political parties and their women’s wings as well as civil society organisations. The visit was hosted by political Parties of Finland for Democracy - Demo Finland.
Minister Luo also met with Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka and participated in a seminar on "Women, power and politics - stories from Finland and Zambia”. The seminar was co-hosted by Demo Finland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and also functioned as a launch event for Demo Finland’s new toolkit on "Gender Equality within Political Parties and Women's Cross-Party Cooperation".
Ministers Toivakka and Luo (Photo: Demo Finland)
In Zambia, women are underrepresented in politics – only 12 percent of parliamentarians are women. In Finland, the corresponding figure is 42 percent.
During the visit, the delegation had the opportunity to discuss internal democracy and equality practices within political parties with their Finnish counterparts. They heard about the successes of the Network of Women in Finland’s Parliament and their work across party lines. The delegation also learnt about mechanisms that are used to promote gender equality in Finland and services to victims of gender-based violence.
The delegation found the visit to Finland successful, as it provided a platform for information exchange and mutual learning. Many best practices and lessons learnt were shared on women’s cross-party collaboration, such as identifying common issues and speaking with one voice. The important role of men in enhancing equality and women’s participation was also acknowledged. The delegation further noted that the electoral and constitutional system could be a powerful tool for Zambia to advance gender equality.
The recent visit was a third exchange visit over the last year between Finnish and Zambian female politicians. It followed training organised last year by Demo Finland for Zambian women parliamentarians, with the aim of supporting strategic development of the Zambia Women Parliamentary Caucus (ZWPC).
The visits have been facilitated through a co-financing arrangement to the ZWPC by UNDP and the Embassy of Sweden in Lusaka as well as through support from Demo Finland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.