Juliet Chibuta is the current Executive Director of the Zambia National Women’s Lobby since 2012. In the past, she has also worked as a Regional Coordinator for the Southern African Legal Assistance Network from 2005 to 2010, a regional organization with legal programmes in 11 SADC countries in Southern Africa. She has also worked for Diakonia Sweden as a Programme Manager for the European Union Democracy Programme from 2011 to 2012. In Zambia, she has been a strong gender activist and sat on many women NGO Boards of Governance, including on the Board of Non Governmental Organizations’ Coordinating Council, the umbrella organization of the Women’s Movement in Zambia.
1. What is for you the added value of Europeans in assisting and supporting others in their democratic transformation and transition processes? What role can they play?
Europeans have a long history of democracy and they have a lot to share with other countries in terms of experiences.
European countries have been conducting regular elections, practicing freedom of expression and countries accommodate divergent views. Also in terms of inclusiveness of the minority groups like women, European countries are more advanced.
As a young democracy, Zambia has a lot to learn from European countries, e.g. countries like Finland which, despite not having any quotas, has achieved to increase the number of women in governance structures like Parliament. Also Finland has been led by both genders at the highest level. European countries can therefore play a role in experience sharing and technical support in assisting young democracies as they grow. European countries can also assist in giving resources to African countries which are enhancing their democracy. For instance, Zambia is one of the countries that has received resources from European countries for elections and other democratic processes.
2. As a practitioner, give us an example of how you have been able to make the difference?
I work for the Zambia National Women’s Lobby whose mission is to promote the participation of women in decision making processes. The organization does this in order to address gender imbalances in government, political parties and other public and private institutions in line with human rights principles, democracy, good governance and sustainable development. Also Zambia is a signatory to several international instruments that promote democracy. It is therefore important to ensure that both men and women are participating in democractic processes.
As a democratic country, Zambia is supposed to be inclusive in ensuring that both men and women are involved in governance. However, because of the many structural and cultural challenges faced when trying to enter leadership positions, there are only a few women in leadership positions. For example at the Parliamentary level, the representation of women is at 12% and at local government level it is at 6%. To enhance democracy in Zambia, the Zambia National Women’s Lobby conducts various programmes to promote women’s participation in leadership. This is done for example by improving the capacity of women to take up leadership positions in different political and socio-economic fields, and through lobbying and advocacy to strengthen the ability of women to effectively influence policies on women and girls representation and participation in decision making processes.