THE Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) has charged that failure by the Women’s Movement in Zambia to voice out against female cyber bullying is detrimental to attaining the goal of equal gender representation in decision-making processes.
Caucus Chairperson Nkandu Luo says if left unchecked, cyber bullying against women could significantly impede the digital inclusion of women in national development.
Asked whether the Women’s Movement (The Non-governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) and the Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) are doing enough in addressing female cyber bullying), Professor Luo explained, “In fact, this is why a few days ago I asked that question, I said where are the Women’s Movement? because I have been very active in the Movement myself.
And when an issue like this continues to be a problem, the people that should take it as their agenda are the Women’s Movement”.
Professor Luo who is also Minister of Livestock and Fisheries continues, “In case they have not seen that female cyber bullying is a big problem it becomes their agenda. We have two Women Movement that come to my mind, the NGOCC which is the umbrella network for all non-governmental and community-based organisations and the Women’s Lobby whose primary aim is to bridge the gender gap in decision making”.
She added that NGOCC and ZNWL should feel duty bound to speak against female cyber bullying, especially that they are both engaged in championing the drive of 50/50 gender parity representation in decision-making positions.
“Now just tell me, if women are being insulted day-in-day-out using online platforms they will feel unsafe to take part in other digital platforms that may add value to their well-being. The women will not frequent the internet for fear of being “undressed” in public.
I think it is important that these organisations (NGOCC and the Lobby) start to appreciate that one of the things that will not make it possible for us to attract more women in decision-making positions is female cyber bullying,” Professor Luo narrated.
She said female cyber bullying is also on the increase becuase of the patriarchal society which mainly gives absolute priority to men than women.
Professor further clarified, “Women are not “cry babies” as perceived by many, and because they have fought, the world has recognised that they are important in society. Therefore, the cyber platform is now being used to undermine wome’s dignity.
Basically, that is why we are saying we will not accept cyber bullying because we are not “cry babies”, we have fought and I think they are many, many examples that can be given of how women have fought to make sure they are recognised. We are not “cry babies” and we are going to continue where we see that there is injustice we will point out”.
She said it is also unfortunate that female cyber bullying is mainly sponsored by men who feel they have the power to control women.
And Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) Country Director Maureen Samulela indicates, “first, let me appreciate that cyber bullying against women is happening and most of it can easily fall under the Anti-GBV Act. Patriarchy is the root cause for increased online abuse of women”.
Ms Samulela who is also a lecturer at the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education and a Commissioner at the Small Claims Court said it is time society begun accepting and appreciating the fact that women deserve to be equal partners with men.