Zambia National Union of Teachers holds its first Women’s Conference

published 21 April 2011 updated 21 April 2011

Three months after EI’s First World Women’s Conference “On the Move for Equality”, ZNUT convened its Women’s Conference and for the first time elected the ZNUT Women’s Committee. This body will preside over women’s activities, promote and monitor women’s participation and involvement in union affairs at all levels.

Eighty members of ZNUT participated in the Conference on 10-12 April and elected eight members of the National Women’s Committee. ZNUT Director for Gender, Leah Samakayi Kasaji, addressed the delegates: “I am impressed with the achievements that we had made in terms of uplifting women into decision making positions. We have created provincial Women’s Committees, developed and launched a Gender Policy, and are now holding of the first ever National Women’s Quadrennial Conference, where women are being elected to decision making positions.” She thanked cooperating partners and supportive organisations such as the Norwegian Education Union UEN, Education International and the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions.

The General Secretary of ZNUT, Newman Bubala, added that the concept of gender balance has become relevant in the union and the society today, due to the realisation that cultural norms and traditional gender roles generally marginalise women. “The ZNUT Executive Committee is determined to raise women to decision making positions in the union so that they are prepared for leadership, not only in the labour movement but socially, economically and politically as well.”

The Minister of Education in Zambia, Honourable Dora Siliya (MP), spoke at the Conference. She said that women play a vital role in organisations because they are honest, hardworking and committed citizens. She went on to explain that “women and men together constitute the social, economic and political reality of any society,” and pointed out “the need for men and women of the Zambia National Union of Teachers to work together.”

Women’s position in the leadership of education unions has been a central theme at the EI “ On the Move for Equality” Conference in January 2011 in Bangkok, which convened over 350 education unionists from all over the world. As a result of this Conference, Education International is developing a Global Action Plan for Gender Equality, which will unite the voices of 30 million teachers worldwide in one comprehensive strategy to achieve gender equality in unions, in education and in society at large.

EI Deputy General Secretary Jan Eastman applauded the efforts of ZNUT in continuing the discussion on the national level: “I congratulate ZNUT for the clarity and strength of your commitment to address gender equality in the union and in the wider community. It is very helpful to have a Women’s Committee in the union – the next step is to include gender equality in every aspect of the daily union life. The global connections we built during the On the Move for Equality Conference can provide help and support.”

Go to www.ei-ie.org/women2011 to find presentations, speeches, reports and pictures from the EI “ On the Move for Equality” Conference.