"Our Council started COE work in the last quarter"
The Lusaka City Council is one of the new twelve COEs that came on board in 2012. It is gratifying that the largest urban Council with 33 wards has embarked on a systematic gender mainstreaming journey, which shall undoubtedly give demonstrative encouragement to the rest of the Councils to join. For instance, during the 2012 16 days of activism against GBV, it is the first body in the country to conduct a social-march on "take back the night" in a high density community and in an area where gruesome murders of young women have recently taken place. LCC intends to make this activity an annual event undertaken in trouble-spot areas.
Having a chief Executive Officer who was transferred from another COE appreciated the process and being a gender champion endorsed with the support of councillors and staff that the City council also be included on the process. As a city council, they only have 3 female councillors, out of the 33 wards and this called for the reason why the council should embrace the process as a way of appreciating the role that women make in governance. The council recognise the importance of having 50 percent of women in decision making positions and equal opportunities for all at community level. Before the council was selected as a Centre of Excellence, the leadership was so adamant about gender issues, it was not a council priority. According to them it was a woman's issue and that women were advocating to take men's positions in the council. They did not consider gender issues as something that is practical and of paramount importance to the development of the city.
Buy in was also very difficult but because of the 3 women councillors and the intervention of the Association we managed to get buy in and since then, the council has progressed in many areas, it even has drafted an HIV policy which is engendered, though the council is still drafting the gender policy GL feels indented as it did a lot of lobby on the importance of mainstreaming gender. After having done a series of gender trainings and developing of the gender action plan, the council did appoint a gender focal person and champion and a very active GBV subcommittee at district level was established. The gender focal person plays a proactive role ensuring that the council commits itself in implementing the Gender Action Plan and that resources are made available for the implementation of these activities in the council and the community at large.
The council also actively participated in the 16 days of activism and has been part of the FLOW councils, it is now making efforts to develop a close working relationship with the police to sensitize the communities and the wards in the city as it has in the past year experienced fatal cases of GBV almost in all the 33 wards of the city.
The council is also excited about the gender budgeting exercise as this will help move the gender agenda in the council forward. They also hope to work closely with other civil society organisations to sensitise communities on GBV and the HIV/AIDS, through its E mapping exercise. Being a city council has its own challenges but the support from management and councillors is what is driving the process to its greater heights.
The council has been very proactive in considering women for job opportunities especially on waste management, the council also has through the HIV work place policy and it has also been part of the councils that is undertaking the E mapping exercise on HIV and AIDS. It is also planning to extend the Gender, GBV and HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns in the community. The council believes that the COE process is the best process for mainstreaming Gender in Local Authorities and that the programme should be extended to all councils in the country as it helps in capacity building of councillors and employees. The audit helps the council to reflect on the issues that need to be seriously addressed for effective and efficient implementation of council activities.
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