In the last year, the Zambian economy fell into a deep slump, largely aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Real GDP fell by approximately 4.9% in 2020, after growing by at least 4 % in 2018 and 1.9% in 2019. This sharp contraction in output has been the consequence of an unprecedented decline in key sectors of the economy. Manufacturing output plunged drastically due to the disruption of supply chains, whereas the service and tourism sectors saw a sharp drop in private consumption and investment as a result of the stringent measures taken to contain the COVID–19 pandemic. Mining output, which declined initially due to falling global demand for copper, is recovering amidst production disruptions in South America and the surge in demand occurring in the electric car industry. Sustained commodity price increases beyond the current forecast could lead to further economic contraction. Even before the pandemic, the economy was experiencing serious macroeconomic challenges, such as high inflation, continuous widening fiscal deficits, unsustainable debt levels, low international reserves, and tight liquidity conditions. Price levels and the financial sector have not stabilized, despite Government efforts to deploy monetary easing in 2019 and 2020.

Government in its bid to realise Zambia’s potential to be a prosperous middle-income country by 2030 aims to focus on selected key sectors of the economy to drive forward the economic transformation agenda anchored on the Economic Transformation Programme, which will be the overarching framework used to implement various interventions in different sectors of the economy. The following are four key sectors that Government intends to use to spur the transformation of the country’s economy.


Agriculture plays an important role in the Zambian economy, contributing about 20 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and approximately 12 per cent to the national export earnings. Over 60 per cent of the population derives its livelihood from agriculture, and yet despite this, the sector’s potential has not been exploited fully, chiefly because of dilapidated agricultural support infrastructure; inadequate delivery of extension services; and natural disasters such as drought and floods due to climate change.

Government envisages increasing agriculture’s contribution to economic growth by not only increasing production for food security but also boosting agro-processing and manufacturing for both domestic and export markets. To achieve this agenda, the following areas will be prioritized:

Agricultural Productivity – Agricultural productivity in Zambia significantly falls short of the minimum required thresholds to deliver profitability for farmers, food security, nutritional needs, job creation and poverty reduction. This low productivity is attributed to the use of inefficient production techniques and inadequate access to agricultural inputs, among other factors. Government will improve agricultural productivity to meet household and national food security en route to becoming the regional breadbasket.

Agricultural Extension Services – Government recognises that the provision of agricultural extension services and access to appropriate technology is an integral part of the agrarian revolution. In particular, Government will pursue an extension strategy that will not only ensure national food security but will also improve rural livelihoods.

Market Access – Farmers have been heavily constrained by limited access to markets, mainly because of poor infrastructure such as roads in rural areas, inadequate availability and supply of agricultural information, and insufficient access to financing. A key focus will be placed on connecting the farmer to upstream domestic and international markets with the view to increasing the farmer’s share in final products.

Agri-business Development – This will involve value addition in the entire value chain system, from providing inputs to farmers to connecting with consumers, as well as marketing and distribution. Government will rebrand the agriculture sector as an attractive, commercially viable and modernised occupation, especially among the youth who generally consider farming to be arduous and an occupation for older people.


Zambia’s tourism sector boasts of a wealth of natural assets such as waterfalls, lakes, rivers and diverse wildlife species. The sector is an important contributor to the country’s economic development through; job creation, foreign exchange earnings, contributions to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other economic facets. As a major Foreign Exchange (FOREX) earner. Zambia’s tourism industry contributed 7% of GDP (USD 1,701 million) and 7.2% of total employment (469 thousand jobs), whereas international visitors spent USD 849 million, representing 10% of Zambia’s total exports in 2019 (Tabetando, 2020).

Despite its economic contribution, an array of challenges have continued to impact the sector, from the lack of a comprehensive national tourism plan; underdeveloped tourism-related infrastructure; limited investment in the sector by both local and foreign investors; limited tourism product range and scope; inadequate tourism promotion and marketing; low participation by locals in direct and indirect tourism development, Zambia being perceived as a high-cost destination – and recently the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government seeks to remedy some of these challenges by revamping the sector to increase its contribution to GDP and employment. To achieve this, strict adherence and implementation ought to be done with the following measures;

  • Maintaining a stable economic landscape to reduce the cost of doing business, including streamlining license acquisition, easing tax compliance, visa processing and exemptions and improving connectivity.
  • Putting in place a robust tourism marketing to incorporate all tourism products including traditional ceremonies, visual arts, culture, heritage sites and others
  • Promoting tourism diversification to other products.
  • Protecting and making Zambia a haven for wildlife by tightening regulations for the licensing of hunting and control of the processing, sell, import and export of wild animals and trophies.

As the country embarks on an economic transformation agenda, there is a need to extensively rebrand and market the sector both internationally and locally to revive it and maximise its vast natural resources benefits.


Traditionally, the manufacturing sector has played a key role in helping developing countries facilitate industrialization as well as realise economic growth and development. The contribution of Zambia’s manufacturing sector to GDP remained stable over the period 2015-2019 with an average of about 7.9%. However, the sector’s performance has been hampered by the high cost of doing business and an unstable macroeconomic environment. These challenges were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the shrinking of the manufacturing sector by 4.6% in the second quarter of 2020 (Zambia Statistics, 2020).

To address these challenges and considering the strategic importance of the manufacturing sector to job creation and economic growth, Government intends to put in place an under-structure that facilitates the growth of this sector by not less than 15 per cent by 2026 and to at least 25 per cent by 2031. Some of the measures to be put in place by Government to facilitate growth include:

  • Fiscal discipline and minimize borrowing in the local market so as not to crowd out the private sector;
  • Improve regulatory frameworks and remove administrative barriers to business entry and operations and facilitate the development of high growth sectors;
  • Create an enabling macroeconomic environment, strengthen the public agencies that support private sector development and enhance public-private dialogue;
  • Also, Government will dialogue with all key stakeholders in addressing the various challenges affecting the growth of the manufacturing industry in the country;
  • Furthermore, Government will develop targeted policy incentives that attract large capital inflows with required Zambia equity participation; and lastly,
  • Foster policy linkages with education to build a skilled labour market which attracts capital into target industries.


Zambia possesses one of the world’s highest grades of copper deposits and is ranked the seventh largest copper producer in the world. Mining contributes over 70 per cent of the country’s foreign export earnings. Zambia also produces about 20 per cent of the world’s emeralds. The mining sector is governed and regulated by the Mines and Minerals Development Act No. 11 of 2015, which covers types of mining rights, acquisition of mining rights, rights/obligations conferred on the mining right holder, transferability of mining rights, safety, health and environment requirements, and provides for the environmental protection fund, mineral royalties, fees, and export of minerals.

The main challenges this sector faces are:

  • The lack of local participation in this industry,
  • A lack of transparency and accountability regarding revenue management, and;
  • Uncertainties about energy supply and property rights.

As a result, the country has not managed to fully pass on the benefits of its mineral wealth to the Zambian population. The Government now seeks to redress this by:

  • Undertaking a major mining sector policy reform including tax policy and administration reforms that will bring various stakeholders on board to design a sound policy and administration system, with broad policy consideration that will stand the test of time.
  • Enhancing monitoring and oversight mechanisms and technologies to reliably ascertain the volume and content of mining output for taxation purposes to ensure Zambians receive their fair share.
  • Promoting diversification both within the copper sub-sector through the extension of the copper value chain, and from copper to other minerals by promoting exploration and processing of gemstones and industrial minerals.
  • Promoting small-scale mining as it has closer links with the local economy, generates more local jobs and supports the retention of earnings within the country.
  • Working with communities and investors to ensure that the development agreements entered into with Government balance the provision of incentives with concerns of the communities such as environmental impact and labour issues.

Government is urged to take into consideration all the aforementioned measures, in order to facilitate even more investments – as well as an increase in production from the current levels to a more sustained output that will benefit both the country and the sectors’ investors, which consequently will grow and stabilize the economy.

On 30th July 2021, a report by the Zambia Police revealed that 576 children (571 Girls, 5 Boys) were reported defiled in the second quarter of 2021. These statistics indicate an increase of over 10% from the first quarter of 2021, translating to an average of one child defiled every 3 hours 47 minutes.

This revelation must be of concern to all stakeholders; Government, parents, caregivers, teachers, traditional leaders, CSOs, and church leaders among others. Zambia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which is a legally binding commitment that entails the upholding of basic fundamental rights. Central to this is that every child has the right to life, survival, and development, protection from all forms of violence, abuse, or neglect, an education that enables children to fulfill their potential, be raised by, or have a relationship with their parents and express their opinions and be listened to.   

However, there has been a growing concern on the number of children being sexually abused which is a gross violation of the rights of a child and has long-term physical, emotional and psychological effects on them. These abuses have in some cases been committed by people entrusted to protect the child for example parents, siblings, caregivers, relatives, teachers, pastors among others. The most critical challenges have been the number of cases that go unreported, unnoticed or unspoken of. Cultural norms dictate that sexuality is considered sacred and labeled as a taboo. Therefore, children have been socialised to be silent on matters surrounding sexuality, which largely impacts on their ability to openly discuss issues of sexual abuse with adults. Similarly, cultural norms have further perpetuated a culture of silence and prevented adults from reporting cases of sexual abuse to the police for fear of public ridicule and bringing shame upon the family, thus cases have continued to swept under the proverbial “carpet”. This culture has consequently shielded the violators of children’s rights; exposed children to HIV and other sexually transmitted illness; denied the victims justice and a childhood as well as access to the necessary psych-social support.

In view of this, the Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) urges Government to prioritise funding towards child social protection in order to adequately respond to the rising cases of child sexual abuse. There is need to adequately fund Victim Support and the Child Protection Units across the country and enhance sensitization programmes targeted at children and the general public in order to equip them with information and procedures to report against such vices and access to psycho-social counseling. Further, there is need to strengthen life skills among children through in-school curriculum training for children and increased targeting for out-of-school children through the establishment of safe spaces for children and youth to be able to identify various forms of abuse and be able to report them. Furthermore, the Government is urged to put in place strong policy measures aimed at protecting children through enhanced child-protection programs and enforcement of laws against child abuse offenders.

Government is urged to expedite the enactment of the Children’s Code which has been in draft  form for some time now. This is a comprehensive instrument for the protection of the rights of the child.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in the extended closure of schools, PMRC urges Government to establish welfare centres and safe spaces for children whose parents may be under quarantine in health facilities or may need to get away from homes that pose a threat to them. Finally, we call upon every individual to report cases of sexual abuse and protect every child.


Agriculture and agribusiness play an important role in the Zambian economy, contributing around 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years and about 12 percent of national export earnings. Agriculture employs nearly 70 percent of the labor force and remains the main source of income and employment for most of the people living in rural areas. It is for this reason that the Government has over years endeavored to invest in the agricultural sector through various initiatives such as the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), reducing customs duty on agricultural equipment and the encouragement of private sector involvement.

The Enabling Business of Agriculture (EBA) report measures how regulation affects the livelihood of domestic farmers. It helps policy makers assess the regulatory environment in agriculture by examining whether Government-designed regulations and processes either facilitate or hinder agricultural activities of domestic farmers. The 2019 EBA report indicators show that Zambia is ranked number 3 out of 28 countries in Sub Saharan Africa in design and implementation regulations as well as processes that promote an enabling environment for farmers to thrive.   

The EBA report has eight quantitative indicators which include; supplying seed, registering fertilizer, securing water, registering machinery, sustaining livestock, protecting plant health, trading food, and accessing finance. The report shows that Zambia scored well in five of these indicators, which included; the availability of seed, access to fertilizer, availability of water resources, plant protection and access to finance.

There has been an improvement in the use of improved seed by farmers for the period 2002 to 2019. Particularly for maize, there has been substantial improvement by households using the improved maize seed from 54% to 70%.  This improvement is attributed partly to the liberalization of the seed subsector. The private sector plays a major role in seed production and exports. Zambia is one of the largest seed exporters in Africa; aside from the domestic market, it exported a recorded total of 17,891 tons of certified seed to other African countries in 2011. Other reasons for the improvement in the use of improved seed use include; research, breeding, production, marketing and extension services, which have positively influenced the adoption of improved seed among smallholder farmers. In addition, the traditional FISP has contributed to this increase, especially that hybrid maize seed is part of the FISP package. Further, the Governments’ Food Security Pack (FSP), which distributes free hybrid maize seed to vulnerable households, may have partly accounted for this increase in the use of improved seed.

In recent years, the agricultural sector has witnessed increased trends in the use of fertilizer by farmers. This increase in the use of fertilizer is as a result of increased Government funding towards FISP, which stands at 61% of the fertilizer financing in the country. Secondly, there has been an increase in the commercial farm sector over the years, which in turn entails more use of fertilizer in crops such as wheat, soybean, sugar, barley, and maize production as drivers of increased demand for their product.

Zambia and Kenya are two of the three countries that received a maximum score on securing water as they have put in place sufficient regulation for water management. The creation of the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Environmental Protection is an effort in the right direction in ensuring the protection and use of water resources as well as investment in water infrastructure.

Despite the tight fiscal space from the ongoing debt repayments, the Government has continued to fund the agricultural sector. In the 2021 national budget, there was a 6.7% increase in the budget allocation towards the agricultural sector. The private sector has played a minimal role in financing the agricultural sector in form of loans for greenfield investments, as majority of the lending goes toward financing big commercial farms.   Access to finance for small-scale farmers recently improved with recent initiatives by Zambia National Commercial Bank’s Lima Credit in collaboration with the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU). The scheme enables groups of small-scale farmers to receive a seasonal credit for maize. Loan funds are disbursed in kind through input suppliers, who deliver the inputs to the District Farmers Association for onward distribution to each farmer group, in which the group members are jointly liable for repayment.

The report also indicates some areas of improvement such as the use of farm machinery, plant protection and food trading. These areas are very critical for a successful agricultural sector as such there is need for Government to expedite the establishment of the tractor assembly in order to improve the use of farm machinery, especially by small-scale farmers. The improvement in plant protection is essential, as the country grapples with the effects of climate change which has brought about new pests and insects that are destroying crops. This, therefore, calls for increased funding towards research and development in the sector which will capacitate the research institutions to carry out research and experiments in a timely manner. Lastly, the aspect of food trading is important as the country strives to grow the contribution of the sector to the national GDP. Improvements in food trading include among others, ready markets for agricultural products, food storage, packaging and branding and proper handling of crops after harvest. These aspects of the agricultural sector require improved investment in infrastructure such as roads, agro-processing machines in convenient locations and proper storage facilities.

Therefore, Government is urged to continue providing a conducive environment for increased private sector investment within the sector. There is also need for increased funding towards research and development as well as extension services, to enable the country to score in all the indicators of the EBA report.

Zambia has developed an ambitious Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) to provide a clear roadmap of strategic policy actions and enablers to revive the economy and put it back on a sustainable development path. The ERP has set out a broad strategic intent, and areas of focus to be implemented for the period 2020-2023 that includes restoration of micro-economic stability, attainment of fiscal and debt sustainability, restoring growth and dismantling arrears while ensuring sustainable spending in the social sector amidst the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change.

Before the pandemic, Zambia’s economy was grappling with the effects of climate change and weather variability, low economic growth, pressure on public finances due to debt repayment and currency fluctuations. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges thereby calling for more pragmatic solutions to rebuild and stabilize the economy. In its implementation, the ERP must take into account the profound challenges in the country’s public health and socio-economic sectors by setting out policy options and programs that respond to the current and future needs of the country.

The success of the ERP, therefore, anchors on some of the successes of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) by ensuring it leverages the integrated multisectoral development approach and soliciting support from the business community, cooperating partners, civil society and other stakeholders for their expertise and financial resources. The private sector is an important partner in the implementation of the ERP as it is a driver of economic growth. Government, therefore, is urged to continue implementing a clear business case for the private sector to flourish, thereby fostering job creation and economic growth.

Through the successful implementation of the set out strategic focus areas coupled with fiscal discipline and incorporating lessons learned from the implementation of the 7NDP and the Zambia Economic Plus, the economy is poised for a revival. This will in turn provide a favorable development environment for setting strategic priorities for the successful implementation of the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP). Therefore Zambia will require adhering to the set out strategic policy areas and options enshrined in the ERP to realize macroeconomic stability, attain fiscal and debt sustainability, restore growth, dismantle domestic arrears and safeguard social sector spending.

Lastly, PMRC commends the Patriotic Front (PF) for launching the new manifesto which is aligned to the ERP’s strategic focus areas of development.

Lastly, PMRC commends the Patriotic Front (PF) for aligning the new party manifesto to the ERP’s strategic focus areas of development. The manifesto outlines the PF Government commitment towards rebuilding the economic potential of our country which has largely been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the 21st of January 2021, Zambia recorded 1,264 new cases of COVID-19 out of 10,523 tests conducted with 12 deaths and 1,747 recoveries. Cumulatively, the number of tests stood at 806,196, recorded cases at 42,213 with 31,522 recoveries. Total deaths were recorded at 597 with 345 classified as COVID-19 associated deaths and 233 as COVID-19 deaths and 19 pending classification. Total active cases stood at 10,094 as announced by the Ministry of Health.

From the time that Zambia recorded its first two cases in March 2020, much of the virus was contained within the capital. In the span of a few months, many cases emerged in major towns such as Kafue, Ndola, Nakonde, and Livingstone, which led to lockdown in order to conduct massive testing on residents. Although cases were recorded each month after March, the infection rate was stable before increasing during the cold season.  Thereafter it decreased once more which led to citizens becoming complacent towards the prevention measures. By September 2020, the number of districts affected by the pandemic increased from 68 to 96 as of 30 November 2020.

Recent statistics between the 1st of December 2020 and the 21st of January 2021 show that cases have been soaring as the second wave makes its mark globally. The increase in the number of cases and deaths has seriously raised Government’s concerns, considering the social and economic impacts the country had experienced throughout the course of 2020. With the current number of active cases on the rise, one would fear the strain this will have on health facilities, and if at all the available facilities will be enough to accommodate patients in critical condition.

Beyond its effects on the health of Zambian citizens, COVID-19 has had significant economic effects. Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised downwards from an initial positive growth of at least 3% to a new forecast indicating negative growth of around -4.2%. In 2020, the agriculture, mining, and tourism sectors all took significant hits as a result of the pandemic. Heading into 2021, the Minister of Finance Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu estimates a real GDP growth rate of at least 1.8%. However, the attainment of this will largely depend on how the global economy performs, Zambia’s ability to keep the virus at bay and how well companies across the country can maintain “normal” operations. In order to respond to the economic impact of COVID-19, Government has drawn up a robust multi-Sectoral approach that it will continue to develop and re-evaluate as the situation changes.

The recent strain of the virus is thought to be more contagious and fast-spreading thus Government is concerned with the laxity of citizens’ adherence to prescribed measures to contain and mitigate the spread. Rigorous measures to try and curb the spread of the pandemic were employed last year which included: wearing of face masks, sanitizing hands regularly, disinfecting surfaces, discouraging the public from visiting crowded places, and observing social distancing of about 1-2 meters, among others. More stringent measures included restrictions on foreign travel, quarantines for symptomatic travelers returning from high-risk countries as well as the closure of learning institutions and certain businesses.

The recent surge in cases has resulted in increased public anxiety and uncertainty as to what more stringent measures will be implemented by the Government and their socio-economic impacts on individual households and society at large. The Ministry of Health is hard-pressed to increase testing capacity, surveillance and mitigation strategies amidst low public compliance on preventative measures across the country to avert the potential of a deadlier strain of the virus as exhibited in the second wave. The onus is on us as individuals to adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines in order to ensure our own safety and that of everyone around us.

This is therefore a call to collective action for all citizens to intensify adherence efforts to the prescribed measures in order to protect the citizenry and complement Government’s efforts in mitigating the spread of the virus, as we await a vaccine. PMRC would like to commend the President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu on his precautionary statement on the need to ensure the safety of proposed vaccines before they are administered to the Zambian citizenry.

On Tuesday the 19th of January 2021, the Zambian Government, through its mining investment arm Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH), completed the 100% acquisition of Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) following its negotiations with Glencore Corporation. In April 2020, Glencore Corporation had announced its intention to place the mine under care and maintenance sighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and low copper prices. However, this was rebutted by Government because it would have resulted in the loss of employment for 15,000 employees.

ZCCM-IH has acquired the 90% shareholding of MCM previously held by Glencore Corporation through Carlisa Investment Corporation (73.1%) and First Quantum Mining (16.9%), giving ZCCM-IH 100% control of Mopani. The Government of Zambia and Glencore Corporation signed an off-take arrangement deal. An off-take arrangement is simply an arrangement between the producer and a buyer to purchase or sell all or portions of the producer’s forthcoming goods/commodities to the market. This sort of agreement is commonly done with the mines to secure a market for their future production purposes. In this case, Glencore Corporation has agreed to sell 90% of its shares to ZCCM-IH, which will fully own the mines after the transaction has been fully settled. This is because ZCCM-IH and Glencore deal is based on a no-cash transfer basis.

The deal is priced at $1.5 billion which will be funded by a loan that will be repaid from sales and profits moving forward. The loan is estimated to be repaid in a period of 10-17 years depending on copper prices which are currently at $8000 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange.  For the debt to be paid, the Government and Glencore have put up terms and conditions as stipulated below. Firstly, the interest of the transaction debt will be capitalized for the first three months, implying that it will report to the balance sheet and not the income and expenditure sheet and thereafter, paid quarterly at the London Interbank Offer Rate which is at 3%. The principal outstanding payment will be paid using a dual mechanism approach. Firstly, 3% of the gross revenue of Mopani copper (2021-23) and thereafter, 10-17.5%. Secondly, 33.3% of the Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) minus (taxes, changes in working capital, royalty payments, and payments in the first mechanism).

The 100% acquisition comes with many socio-economic benefits such as employment security for the 15,000 mine workers. This will have a trickle-down effect on their communities and the nation as large.  The acquisition also provides an opportunity for local mine suppliers and contractors to conduct business with the mines. It is envisioned that this move by Government will increase the number of local contractors within the mining sector, which will enhance the establishment of local mining supply chains. Additionally, the deal comes at a time in which the price of copper has increased on the global market, trading at $ 8,014 per tonne as of the 20th of January 2021, with a projection of above $7000 per tonne in 2021. Government will therefore generate revenue which will not only be used to pay off its acquisition loan but will also be used to enhance economic development in the country.

In order for Government to maximize this acquisition, there is a need for them to amend the Mines and Minerals Development Act No. 11 of 2015 to ensure that Zambians benefit from the mining sector. The amendment of the Act will ensure proper coordination and an adequate legal framework governing the mine. Secondly, poor corporate governance has led to the fall of many private and stated-owned enterprises around the world. It is for this reason that PMRC strongly recommends that principles of corporate governance be embedded in the running of MCM.

The 2021 commemorations of International Women’s Day are like no other. As Zambia makes its way through a devastating pandemic that has shown no discrimination in its effects, there is a chance to reactivate the issue of exclusion and marginalization of women and girls. COVID-19 has delivered home some hard truths: in the social space, women and girls have been more adversely affected by the pandemic. Accounts of increased cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in which some result in death; teenage pregnancies; are just some of the social ills that have dominated the news in the recent past.

In the economic space, women are still striving to put food on the table despite the uncertainties brought about by job losses and reduced business opportunities due to the pandemic. This pandemic is, therefore, a clarion call to action. Women must have the opportunity to play a full role in shaping the pivotal decisions being made as Zambia responds to and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To do this, we must break down the deep-seated historic, cultural, and socio-economic barriers that prevent women from taking their seats at the decision-making table to ensure that resources and power are more equitably distributed. Much of the intolerance and tokenism of days gone by cannot be allowed in shaping the agenda for

women’s participation in the response to the COVID 19 pandemic. Tokenism cannot be allowed in the new normal. A shift in the way we do things and view ourselves can enable women to contribute to the post-COVID socio- economic recovery of the country. Thus it is necessary for women to engage more deeply in the decisions that could change their future and that of their families.

Across the world, women remain concentrated in the lowest paid jobs with many in extremely vulnerable forms of employment. Women have been nearly twice as likely as men to lose their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, the pandemic has dramatically increased the poverty rate for women and widened the gap between men and women who live in poverty. As women take on greater care demands at home, their jobs are disproportionately affected by cuts and lay-offs. Such impacts risk rolling back the already fragile gains made in female labor force participation, limiting women’s ability to support themselves and their families, especially for female-headed households. In many countries, including Zambia, the first round of layoffs has been particularly acute in the services sector, including retail, hospitality, and tourism, where women are most represented. Perhaps this should make the case for the discussion of job creation outside of the formal sector into non-traditional areas such as agriculture, small-scale manufacturing, and mining. We believe that Government, through the 2021-2023 Economic Recovery Plan recognizes this and stands ready to support women. The onus is also on women to familiarize themselves with these important documents and claim this support immediately.

Despite the barriers, women have continued to be at the forefront of the response to COVID-19, be it in health facilities, the service industry, markets, in their families and communities. It is important to note that more inclusive leadership and representation leads to stronger democracies, better governance and better implementation of policies. We therefore, seek to amplify women’s voices and promote their participation and leadership in public institutions, parliament and generally in the development space. With support from Government, electoral quotas to gender-smart business policies, we believe women can help identify and address gaps in response to the pandemic; from ways to address gender-based violence and redistribute economic resources.

Therefore, to build a better way forward from the COVID-19 crisis, and to get Zambia firmly back on track, we cannot simply return to the world we knew before. We must do things differently as required by the new normal. That means shattering the barriers that have previously held women back. This year’s International Women’s Day is a rallying cry for Generation Equality. It is time to finally fully harness the power of women’s leadership to realize a more equal, more inclusive, and more sustainable future.

As women, we ought to ride on the shoulders of those who have led the way: through following their optimism, purpose and courage; believing in our limitless potential to add value to achieve growth and impact. Her Honor the Vice President Inonge Wina at the helm of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) at such time as this has shown that everyone has the potential and opportunity to be an impactful leader. Leadership, like love, success or beauty is a word with as many definitions as there are people. And like many of these other words and concepts, leadership has some fundamental truths. One of these fundamental truths is service. The pandemic calls for each one of us to serve. Leadership is consciously seeking, recognizing and acting on opportunities to make things better for oneself and for others. The COVID-19 Pandemic represents such an opportunity and women are reminded to take up their positions to serve in whatever capacities they find themselves in; at home, at work, the community, and at national level. Therefore, as we commemorate International Women’s Day under the theme “ Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future In a COVID 19 World“ we recognize the tremendous efforts so far made by women and girls around the world but more so by our own Zambian shereos in shaping a more equal future and recovery from COVID-19.

It is against this background that PMRC, calls for women to be Ambassadors for the post-COVID-19 response agenda as the country implements the Economic Recovery Program 2021-2023.