By Michelle Muchina
Proportional Representation legislator Esther Chikuni says most women in Parliament have bright ideas but fail to bring them out due to lack of education.
Women legislators have been accused of underperforming in Parliament to the extent that questions have been raised as to whether it is still justified to extend the term of the highly criticised Proportional Representation Clause which is set to expire in 2023.
Legislators like Temba Mliswa (Norton) have castigated these women legislators accusing them of just coming to warm benches and not earning the salary and sitting allowances they get.
However, in an interview Honourable Chikuni acknowledged the underperformance of most women legislators but attributed it to lack of education adding that it not only erodes their confidence but that also makes it difficult to participate.
“Getting educated is an advantage, it takes you to another level and as you will be meeting with a lot of people it also gives you confidence.
“Women do have ideas and they want to speak on in Parliament, but the challenge is they don’t have the confidence and knowledge on how to bring them out, hence affecting our participation in Parliament,” she said.
According to Honourable Chikuni, young women are getting into a relationship too early, get pregnant and then drop out of school adding that girls must be taught about the value of going to school and getting an education.
She said as women Parliamentarians, they are working hard in advocating for afternoon lessons, home schools and evening lessons as a way of empowering and giving an opportunity to girls who would have dropped out of school due pregnancies Honourable Chikuni added that women need a lot of support to overcome the various challenges they are facing adding that they do not even have money to start income-generating projects since the little they make from various means is spent in looking after children.
“Women have no money to partake in community projects like agriculture, buying and selling and even baking. The money they get they rather use it to take care of the children at home.
“We just recently came out of the Portfolio Committee on Woman’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, where we were discussing challenges being faced by women and we then take these issues to Parliament for the question and answer session segment,” she said.
On her part as a legislator, Honourable Chikuni said “I help women use what they have around them, if they have water and soil, they should grow vegetables and tomatoes for a living.
“I always organise meetings with women by putting them in different age groups and help them,” she said.