The Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) in Mongu district of Western Province have called on men to remain gender sensitive if the province is to attain meaningful development.
BRE Indunas made the call in Mongu district at a two day-workshop organised by the World Fish Centre which was aimed at creating new approaches that can promote equal participation of both women and men in the management of natural resources.
Induna Imandi Mangolwa Akapelwa noted that Western Province is endowed with abundant natural resources such as fish in the Zambezi flood plains, rice and fertile land that could support aquatic agricultural system, saying if well managed it would transform the livelihood of the people in the province.
And Induna Mubonda bemoaned the high levels of poverty among the women of Western Province despite the abundance of natural resources and called for change in the mind set of men who have atendency of discriminating against women.
He charged that it is a pity the majority of the people in the province continue wallowing in abject poverty when God has gifted the area with natural resources.
On the other hand Induna Mubonda reiterated that women in the province do not have much power in the distribution of natural resources such as lagoons in Zambezi Flood Plain which are mostly owned by men and encouraged men to have equality and equity in the distribution of wealth of the nation for sustainable development.
He challenged men to give women equal opportunities and platform on which to bring out issues affecting them and report to police the perpetrators of gender based violence in the community.
And Bromberg School of Public Health USA Senior Program Officer, Jane Brown, noted that it was important to critically examine social and cultural norms that govern both men and women in order to overcome gender disparities and discrimination against women and girl child who are the most vulnerable in any given society.
Ms Brown further stressed the need for transformative approach towards gender based violence saying while sparks for change can come from outside, the direction of change must come from within the people themselves affected by the phenomenon.
She urged all the participants to take an active role in the fight against GBV by ensuring equal access of men and women to land and management of resources.
However, Senior Research Advisor for the School of Health Behaviour and Society USA, Carol Underwood, said there is need for a social ecological model communication and behaviour change that would bring about the adoption of positive views on the marginalised persons.
Meanwhile, Administration Assistant, Gender Based Violence Survivor Support Programme (GBVSS), Emideus Chilambwe, observed that some of the cultural norms have been constitutionalised through customary laws and has since advocated for strategic approaches that could eliminate and bring about positive change in the people.
Mr Chilambwe complained that women have for a long time been sidelined in developmental programmes and called for increased sensitisation among men to bring on board women in various developmental activities and break gender stereotyping against women.
The workshop was attended by the World Fish Centre from America and Zambia, NGOs, Caritas Zambia, Barotse Royal Establishment representatives (BRE), Media, Agriculture, Fisheries, FAWEZA and Police.