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By John Chola

ZAMBIA has finally launched the global Vision Zero campaign, a process aimed at building a culture of prevention of occupational accidents that integrates safety, health and wellness.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko told hundreds of delegates from around the globe and within Zambia gathered in Livingstone for the official launch that the global Vision Zero campaign was premised on the belief that all occupational accidents and diseases are preventable.

Simukoko said the campaign resonates well with the policies of the Government of Zambia that seek to address occupational safety and health at work places across the country.

In a speech read for her by Ministry of Labour and Social Security Permanent Secretary Barnaby Mulenga on Friday December 14, 2018, Simukoko noted that occupational accidents and diseases, present colossal social and economic burdens to enterprises in the local and global economy.

She added that the attendant impact of injuries, disease and deaths was directly interpreted in appalling human and financial stress on communities and countries across the world.

“My Government has put in place adequate social security systems, for the protection of workers against employment injuries and diseases; this is because life and health can never be exchanged for any other benefits.

“Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will demonstrate through cooperation and dialogue that it is possible to create safe and healthy workplaces by embracing the Vision Zero campaign in Zambia,” affirmed Simukoko.

The minister further said that the Vision Zero campaign must guarantee the freedom to work in healthy and safe environment for all workers in Zambia.

“We all know that the human and social stress attributed to occupational hazards pose a real challenge for the Zambian as well as global economy with over 2.8 million deaths and 394 million accidents attributed to employment related activities.

“These numbers are way too high and therefore the need for a paradigm shift at every level of organisation from one of fault-finding, to one that focuses on finding solutions to prevent injuries and ill-health cannot be over emphasised,” Simukoko explained.

She said that the launch of Vision Zero campaign in Zambia was a timely intervention by the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) in collaboration with the International Social Security Association (ISSA).

She commended the WCFCB and its local and international partners for taking a proactive approach to accident prevention and supporting the Government in taking leadership to ensure that workplaces in Zambia were safe and healthy.

Simukoko stated that the Vision Zero campaign was a positive response to the aspirations of the Government on the need to deliver a vibrant social security system that protects citizens against poverty, and destitution arising from employment-related injuries, diseases and deaths.

“Striving for a world without fatalities or injuries is one of the greatest challenges that confront us all, and to respond to these challenges we need to keep abreast with the latest developments, and constantly review existing legislation and policies on occupational safety and health in Zambia.

“My Government wishes to assure all partners involved that we fully embrace and support the Vision Zero campaign in the country because it confirms the commitment to oversee the implementation of policies that are seeking to transform into an efficient and effective organisation,” the minister said.

She made a clarion call to all stakeholders, especially employers to join the Vision Zero campaign and ensure that Zambia as a country delivered workplaces that were safe and healthy for all workers in the country by 2030.

WCFCB Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Nkumbula praised ISSA and partner organisations for delivering the promise on the launch of the Vision Zero campaign as collectively planned.

She explained that the Vision Zero campaign was a global undertaking launched by the ISSA during its 21st World Congress in September 2017 as a response to the increased number of occupational accidents across the world.

Nkumbula said that, in order to address stakeholder concerns on occupational accidents at workplaces, the ISSA introduced the Vision Zero Campaign as a transformation approach to prevention that embraces three dimensions being safety, health and well-being at all work places.

She said that the Vision Zero Campaign had been aligned to Zambia’s national Vision 2030, adding that it was her organisation’s expectation and hope that the preventable accidents and occupational diseases would be reduced by then.

Some of the local partners that worked closely with the ZCFCB in the launch include National Pension Scheme Authority (Napsa), Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco), Local Authority Superannuation Fund (LASF), Zambia Sugar, Public Service Pensions Fund and National Construction Council (NCC).

Others are Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) Road Development Agency (RDA and Indeni.

Before the launch, Zambia through the WCFCB had been holding stakeholder meetings to build momentum around the country towards the Vision Zero campaign.

Capes have always been synonymous with superheroes, from Batman, and Superman, to captain marvel etc., capes are believed to empower superheroes with magical wings, and the ability to fly to the rescue, and do amazing things like save the planet or destroy the enemy.

It’s a little wonder that these capes have found their way onto the backs of the real-life superheroes, as they have become a part of the modern-day women’s clothing designs. Women are Afterall, the superheroes in our everyday lives.

We’ve all come across the famous cape-like jackets and other cape inspired designs, making the rounds in the 2018 fashion scene.

From the stunning Salvatore Ferragamo Fall 2016 cape jacket design, snatched off the runway by Nigeria’s First Lady Aisha Buhari, to the amazing cape inspired wedding outfit with which the famous American tennis superstar, Serena Williams, dazzled the world at her 2017 fall wedding.

These unique cape-inspired outfits, continue to metamorphose through an evolution of designs, weaves, and styles, created in different fabrics by renowned designers through to the 2018 fashion season.

These unique and stylish designs have adorned the backs of famous superstars such as the beautiful American singer and actress, Jennifer Lopez, the adorable actress, and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow, and Nigeria’s famous top Nollywood actress and movie producer, Genevieve Nnaji.

Royalty has not been left out of the trend as they have also taken a liking to these unique designs as seen on the stunning Duchess of Sussex, and retired American actress Meghan Markle, and the regal Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

These stunning women have rocked these designs, leaving different fashion statements in their wake. Royalty, professional women, entrepreneurs, socialites, entertainers, and of course, working girls like me all have a one or a couple cape inspired outfits in added to their wardrobe.

There is no doubt that just like jumpsuits have become an irreplaceable constant in women’s wardrobes, these designs are here to stay.

I own a couple, tailored in different designs, just like some of my fashion loving friends; and  when I come across a fashion trend that is fast becoming a classic, I like to know where it originated from. So, I did some research, and here’s what I found.

First of all, a cape is a sleeveless outer garment, which drapes the wearer’s back, arms, and chest, and fastens at the neck. Familiar right? Well, it was a common fashion in medieval Europe, especially when combined with a hood in the chaperon, and it has since then, had periodic returns to fashion.

In nineteenth-century Europe, the Roman Catholic clergy wore a type of cape known as a ferraiolo, which is worn for formal events outside a ritualistic context. It looks quite familiar if you ask me.

Caped overcoats were also popular for men during the Victorian era, with some caped Ulsters featuring multiple layered capes, and the Inverness coat (both formal evening and working day variants). We just tweaked it up a little bit, and it sure looks stunning on women.

There have also been several modifications to this beautiful classic, so if you are getting ready for a chic lit outing, a business meeting, a flash party or an evening on the red carpet event, there is definitely a cape-inspired outfit to go with.

Dress the way you want to be addressed right? Well, that’s what we are doing.

Women are Afterall the Real superheroes, why not look the part?

 

By Boma Benjy Iwuoha

Several years ago, we could say that there was a huge career gap between the genders all over the world. More women were involved in caregiving roles, family functions, and specific jobs which were considered suitable for women (because of the deeply rooted feminine features, and ability to multi-task within somewhat stress-free subtleties) such as teaching, nursing, and catering. Women were regarded as the “weaker sex” as they were generally considered incapable of keeping up with roles that involved security, physical strength and might, and an all-around mental/emotional stability.

The men, on the other hand, were seen as protectors, leaders, and builder who in most cases, have things figured out. This notion was born out of a close study of natural occurrences over time and not particularly because a certain category of the individual was selected to be marginalized. A meta-analysis concluded that men prefer working with things and women prefer working with people.

In the past in developing continents like Africa and Asia, customs and traditions dictated the roles of each member of the society. For instance, in rural African communities where communal living was the structure upon which they were built, girls were groomed to be home keepers and in order to avoid distractions, they weren’t sent to school. At that time, the only medals a woman could get revolved around being responsible through marriage, being a good home keeper (which included the proper training of her girl children), and the act of submission as a wife. Short of these, she was limited in vision not because she couldn’t dream big dreams, but rather because she didn’t even know what to dream about. Her society had made her short-sighted to the possibilities of career paths.

It was not the men that limited her by relegating her to the background and seizing choice jobs in exotic places. No! it was cultural norms passed down from one generation to the next. The custodians of these norms didn’t know any better. They saw a weaker sex and not the strength capable of causing socioeconomic development across nations of the world.

An article by Rebecca Onion titled “Unclaimed Treasures of Science “, reveals that as far back as the Cold War, there were already women in STEM in the developed countries. The official government line during the Cold War was: STEM careers for everyone! But as historians Margaret Rossiter and Sevan Terzian have pointed out, that push for science, technology, engineering, and math conflicted with gender norms and discriminatory institutional practices, resulting in a confusing set of mixed messages for women and girls. A book by historian Laura Micheletti Puaca titled “Searching for Scientific Womanpower: Technocratic Feminism and the Politics of National Security, 1940-1980 buttresses this point. Puaca wrote about female scientists, engineers, and educators who used innovative tactics to help women succeed in STEM, long before second-wave feminism in the late 1960s and the 1970s made issues of employment equity and stereotyping part of the national conversation.

According to the historian, World War II gave women their starting point. During the war, demands for more of what was often called “scientific manpower” and a shortage of civilian male workers prompted government and industry to start programs to train women in science and engineering. But when men returned from the service, women’s status in STEM fields worsened. The GI Bill sent a flood of male students to American universities, and opportunities—both for women who had gotten quick wartime training and for more established female scientists—dried up.

Importance of having women in STEM

It goes without saying that it has become a necessity to have more women in the STEM fields with the rush of digitalization consuming the world. The coming years will see massive changes in all sectors of the economy and nations of the world need to be prepared for this surge. Women constitute up to half of the world’s population, they are ready to be involved in developmental activities and should be put to good use. In addition, STEM-related organizations and groups must be commended for their relentless efforts towards encouraging a greater participation of women and girls in STEM fields and activities.

The way forward

Despite the successes already recorded regarding women participation in STEM activities, there is a lot of work to be done.

Mentors: There is the need for a greater support and encouragement from mentor figures. This will go a long way in women’s decisions of whether or not to continue pursuing a career in their discipline.

This may be particularly true for younger individuals who may face many obstacles early in their careers. Since these younger individuals often look to those who are more established in their discipline for help and guidance, the responsiveness and helpfulness of potential mentors are incredibly important.

Cultural Exchange: Another way to spike up the number of women in STEM is through Cultural exchanges.

It is true that some tribes and races have cultural barriers which may affect their decisions, cultural exchange programmes should be incorporated in those systems to enlighten such communities on the benefits of having women who are self-reliant.

By: Eruke Ojuederie

Examining the life of a Woman and her journey in S.T.E.M, you will find that almost everything she ever did from the stone age till date has had some elements of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, which in today’s world is referred to as S.T.E.M.

Now, when we think about S.T.E.M and related jobs, we envision Physicists, Aeronautic Engineers, Software Developers, Biotechnologist, Medical Doctors and the likes. We tend to see more men in these fields and it is only natural to assume that men have always dominated these fields. This is not completely true, women have always been in the S.T.E.M field from the beginning of time, however, their contributions have not been adequately recognized or commended. Some may argue that this lack of appreciation may have contributed to the decline in the number of girls interested in S.T.E.M fields.

In this edition, we are looking at certain factors that make up the S.T.E.M disciplines and how much women have contributed to them over the years.

Let’s take a closer look at the genesis of machinery, which we identify as “technology” today, and the invention of some household products; we would find that long before we had modern-day science to create new and easier methods of performing household chores and activities, women had always performed all these activities without the use of technology.  Women washed, cooked, cared for the daily health needs of their family, devised means to preserve foods etc.

Women changed the world through S.T.E.M in areas like:

Research: Many simple things that have been modified today for daily use, were as a result of women’s discoveries, for example, researchers from the ACI, while describing the origin of soaps, state that women found that a slippery mixture of melted animal fat (or tallow), washed down from Mount Sapo (sapo: the name from which the name soap is derived), the mountain where animals were sacrificed, made their wash much cleaner without much effort, this led to the discovery and manufacture of soap. Maybe we owe the amazing feel of clean fresh washed clothes to women.

Technology: Have you ever wondered whom to thank when you’re getting your coffeemaker ready for your first cup of the day? Melitta Bentz was a German Housewife and entrepreneur who invented the coffee filter in 1908. Bentz modified the old tedious method of coffee brewing to a new method. She received a patent for her coffee filter system in 1908 and founded a business that still exists today.

Looking further into how certain tasks were achieved in the past, you would see that there was quite a very strong influence of the women community in how things were done.

Women such as Ellen Eglin an African-American who during the 1800’s invented a clothes wringer, which started the mechanization of the uncomfortable but predominant method of hand washing. Her invention would be further modified as washing machines today.

Eglin sold her patent to a “white person interested in manufacturing the product” for $18. The buyer went on to reap considerable financial awards, while Eglin, disadvantaged in colour and gender, spent her life making a living as a housekeeper and a government clerk.

Going back to the past, and women’s’ contributions to the S.T.E.M field, let’s take a look at the subject of water purification. A scientific process, pioneered by a woman Hypatia.

Chemistry: Hypatia lived in Alexandria Egypt from 350–370 died 415 AD; she was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. She taught philosophy and astronomy and is recorded as the first female mathematician whose life is reasonably well documented. Hypatia was one of the scientific pioneers that introduced the distillation of water which has now become a common activity in every household. Easy as it now seems, it was considered a scientific exploit meant to make a substance purer than its original state. A process made possible by the contributions of a woman, and not many people have heard of her.

In tackling this issue of how much influence or participation women had in S.T.E.M in the past, it can also be viewed be from a very unconventional point of view. Take Alchemy, (defined by the urban dictionary as a form of chemistry before the periodic table, and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance which was aimed at transmutation of the base metals into gold) – some called it magic.  During the time of the alchemist, women had far more reputable standing especially in the depth of their research when compared to men in the field of alchemy. Something their male colleagues did not particularly like.

A good example of such a woman is Marie le Jars de Gournay, who was not allowed to receive the same education in science as her brothers. Blessed with an inquisitive mind, she was able to teach herself Latin and later went on to edit academic manuscripts. As a fully-grown woman and with all the knowledge she had acquired, she became the first female mineralogist and mining engineer.

She later moved to Paris, where she tried her hands at alchemy and published books expressing her views on how women were very much capable of creating a career for themselves in science-related fields like men. During her practice of alchemy, in a time when people still believed in magical creatures and witchcraft. Marie who was very proud of her work ignored the advice of people who cautioned her to stay away from mining. Her bold refusal to give up her practice had her accused of witchcraft and imprisoned, she died in jail at age eighty (80). How dare she thrive in a ‘Man’s’ field, poor Marie.

Isabelle Cortese is another remarkable Alchemist who lived during the sixteenth century in Italy. She chronicled her discoveries in her book titled “The Secrets of Signora Isabella Cortese”. Among her discoveries include; practical methods of perfume production; the production of essential oils and methods of melting metals to make durable jewellery. Most of her works are still in use today.

Innovation: In the area of manufacturing, we have Margaret E. Knight, she was born February 1838, in York, Maine. Armed with only a basic education, she started as a mill worker at age 12. Witnessing an accident at the mill, where a worker was stabbed by a steel-tipped shuttle from a loom, Knight was prompted to invent a safety device for the loom – Her first invention. A device which was later adopted by other mills in Manchester. Several years later, Knight moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where she was hired by the Columbia Paper Bag Company; here she invented a machine that folds and glues paper to form the flat-bottomed brown paper bags familiar to shoppers today.

While Knight was still working to perfect the processing machinery, Charles F Annan, a would-be-inventor of dubious morality, tried to bully her out of her hard work, stealing her design, and patenting the device. Knight filed a successful patent interference lawsuit and in 1871, and she was awarded the patent. Before her death, Knight held over 20 patents and a decoration by Queen Victoria.  At the time of her death in 1914, an obituary described her as a “Woman Edison” A name which many people will come to remember her by. Somewhat dispiriting, to think that she needed a reference to male inventor for the value of her work to be understood?

Katharine Burr Blodgett is another remarkable woman, an American physicist, and chemist known for her work on surface chemistry. Blodgett contributed important research to military needs. Her work in chemistry resulted in her most influential invention: non-reflective glass. Her non-reflective glass is today, an essential for eyeglasses, car windshields, and computer screens. She was a pioneer in several respects, but how many know about her?

The list of women that have made remarkable contributions to various branches of S.T.E.M remain unending, however, the questions remain “What happened?”, “Where did it all change?”. Women had always been in the S.T.E.M field, what held them back to create the gap?

We can see that there was quite a large number of women who were genuinely interested in this field of study, but over time the number began to dwindle. Taking into consideration, the environmental, societal and mental factors that have come into play between then and now, we can begin to understand why women and girls are slowly losing interest in the S.T.E.M. community.

Some of the reasons include: They were not encouraged; they were held back by pressures; their efforts were sabotaged, and they are oftentimes not acknowledged for their contributions.

The most common is lack of Encouragement. Most cultures in the world have given a high level of dominance to the male-folks when it comes to studying S.T.E.M related courses. It is no new issue that some countries see the place of the woman solely in a domestic light. Little wonder girls who study in all girl’s schools tend to be more interested in the S.T.E.M field, and oftentimes outperform their co-ed counterparts. Psychologists found they have less discouragement and little or no negative comparison which their co-ed counterparts are regularly faced with.

What do we do?

Create an “I Can Do It” Atmosphere. In order to excite the minds young girls into studying S.T.E.M related courses, they need to be exposed to the right atmosphere. Vanessa Vakharia who runs The Math Guru science and math studio noted that one of the reasons for the low number of girls in science, is simple; many girls have come to believe that they do not have what it takes to be in S.T.E.M. She advises that incorporating a more psychological and critical means of approach would benefit the girls, especially while they are still trying to figure out who they are.  

Mentors and Role Models for Girls in S.T.E.M. The place of role models cannot be overemphasized when it comes to the girl child development, this cuts across all areas, education, workforce etc. Increasing access to S.T.E.M Mentors (women who have excelled in these fields) for the young girls, would go a long way toward building their self-confidence. Interaction with S.T.E.M mentors would serve as a confidence booster, and as a driving force towards achieving their goals.

Condition their minds. It’s quite common knowledge parents and guardians play an important role in preparing their children psychologically towards their career path. They can do this in various ways; for instance, introducing a variety of television programs that can help them identify what their kids are interested in – e.g. kids may show interest in S.T.E.M inclined programs like Doc McStuffins or Dexter’s Laboratory, which gives you an idea of where best to channel their energy

Other areas include; S.T.E.M inclined books, toys, fun activities like visiting the aquarium; that way you will awaken the marine biologist in them. You can also encourage your girls to participate in their school’s science exhibitions e.t.c.

While early school years can contribute to developing an interest in S.T.E.M in girls, parents can also work towards encouraging their kids with the littlest things in their surroundings. A little nudge once in a while can help create that enthusiasm to study.

S.T.E.M is a very broad and interesting study area and having more women interested in it will definitely be better for the world.