PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says Zambia is still lagging behind in attaining meaningful gender equality as the number of women participating in national governance and the economy is still low and has pledged support to the Ministry of Gender and Child Development in helping more women take part in national affairs. Speaking after swearing-in Minister of Gender and Child Development Victoria Kalima, Luapula Province permanent secretary Buleti Nsemukila and Local Governmt ervice ommission chairperson Amos Musonda at State House yesterday, President Lungu said it was unfortunate that while other countries were boasting of 50-50 women participation in national affairs, Zambia was yet to achieve it. He said the Patriotic Front (PF) tried its level best to achieve the 40 percent women representation by encouraging more women to contest in the just-ended elections but the ruling part failed to realize its objective. He said he hoped that the appointment of Ms. Kalima to the Ministry of Gender would bring a new lease of life to women participation in national affairs. “The journey to achieving gender equality as stated in the Beijing conference is a very know fact but Zambia has not moved fast enough. While other countries are boasting of 50-50 women participati in national affairs, Zambia still lags behind. “PF tried to achieve 40 percent women representation but we failed and I believe your coming to this office will bring an impetus on women to actively participate in matters of governance, economy and everything else that we all participate in as living entities and so am sure you will get support from State House, the ice resident and all of us because we are sincere in our quest to achieve gender parity,” President Lungu said. Meanwhile, President Lungu has directed Mr. Musonda to immediately harmonise the operations of council chairpersons and mayors in order to avoid conflict of interest in their discharge of duty. President Lungu noted that the role of mayors and council chairpersons were not well defined and that if left unattended to could be a source of conflicts in the long-run, hence the need for the Local Government Service Commission to ensure their roles were defined to avoid overlaps. He said while local government was full of politics, there was need for level-headedness in order to foster the growth and development of municipalities and cities. “I know that local government is full of politics but politics should be for development, politics that takes us forward and not politics which stagna the growth of various municipalities and cities. You know the role that mayors and council chairpersons are supposed to play is a challenge because their role doesn’t seem to be clearly identified and so you may wish to sit down as a commission to find our how you can synchronize these offices to ensure that they are singing the same song and working in the same direction. “There are council secretaries and town clerks who have executive powers. Just define their roles properly so that there is no overlap or they are not falling over each other in their quest to deliver. They are all playing an important role in improving service delivery to the and so there is need to harmonize but if we do not bring them together, there will be conflicts on their role and we should ensure that we put the rightful people as ocal overnment ervice ommission to achieve your objectives,” he said.