Our work protecting and promoting the human rights of women and girls means we get to work side by side with some incredible women in positions of power every day. This week, we spoke to Auxilia Bupe Ponga, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism and Arts in Zambia.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE DIVERSE WOMEN IN DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES?
It is important to have many women from different walks of life participating in decision-making positions and at different levels. Women’s experiences are different from men’s experiences. Women in rural areas have different life experiences to women in urban areas. Younger women’s aspirations are very different from older women’s. That is why it is important to have diverse women participating in decision making so that decisions made are more encompassing; more inclusive and leave no one behind. It is for the benefit of the community, the organization, and the country when diverse groups of people participate in decision making. The more women in decision making the more inclusive the process of arriving at a decision. Women bring to the table experiences, perspectives, and intuitive knowledge that only they possess.
HOW IS COVID-19 AFFECTING THE PEOPLE YOU SERVE?
The COVID 19 pandemic has had a very negative impact on the women in Tourism. Women in Tourism usually occupy the lowest levels and they are the first to be laid off when there is a financial downturn. Many women in the hospitality industry like their male counterparts have been sent on forced leave and many without a salary and no one knows how long this pandemic will last. Women being out of employment likely means they are unable to meet the basic needs of their families, let alone their own needs are not met. Women without an income are vulnerable to abuse in the home. These challenges can lead to psychological and emotional problems.
WHAT DOES EQUALITY MEAN TO YOU?
Equality means equal opportunity for girls and boys. Equality means we stop pushing girls into professions that we think are easier. Equality means we stop raising girls and boys from a sexist perspective. We provide them with skills for survival regardless of whether they are girls or boys. They both need to eat therefore both of them need to learn to cook!! We stop buying dolls for girls and cars and airplanes for boys because this prepares boys for a life of privilege and girls for a life of disadvantage. Equality means we begin early enough to allow them equal access to scientific and nurturing roles as equals!! Only when they are raised as equals will they learn to respect each other and treat each other as such.