Inclusive Growth in Zambia: Improving Women’s Representation, Access to Services and Economic Opportunity

Authored by: Ann Hudock

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Economic Participation, Economic Recovery, Human Development, Political Transitions
Country: Zambia
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2014
Citation: Hudock, Ann. Inclusive Growth in Zambia: Improving Women’s Representation, Access to Services and Economic Opportunity. Washington, DC: Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, 2014.

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Executive Summary

Zambia’s economic growth in recent years offers opportunity to recast the conditions for Zambia’s development. But unless that economic development is inclusive and reaches women, Zambia’s development will be uneven. Women make up more than half of the population yet they are disadvantaged in representation, service delivery, and economic opportunity. To date, economic prosperity has been limited largely to the elite and urban populations and those with political connections. Economic growth has not yielded significant dividends for the poor, particularly in the underserved rural areas. Nor has it created more opportunities for political inclusion that could challenge the status quo. In fact, Freedom House refers to Zambia’s “authoritarian drift” as a worrying trend and one that threatens greater progress. When the current government came into power in 2011 there was considerable praise for the peaceful process, democratic elections and smooth transfer of power to the long-time opposition party. Compared to most of its neighbors, Zambia is doing well on many fronts. But, as in any country, there are areas for improvement. One of these critical areas is gender equality. This government could distinguish itself by making serious strides in protecting the rights of women and girls, improving their quality of life, and in turn enhance its poverty reduction agenda by integrating a gendered approach to growth, and paying particular attention to access to services in rural areas for women and girls. Such efforts would make growth more inclusive and tackle rising inequality. Access to basic services would enable women and girls to thrive and to participate more meaningfully in the country’s development.