Luckson Mulumbi – Fighter of equal rights and Champion of Local Democracy

Luckson Kanjaka Mulumbi spent many years within the civil sector, analyzing how policy budgeting, monitoring and expenditure affect Zambia’s women and youth. Today, he is a town council chairperson fighting for greater inclusion and gender mainstreaming in his local community of Mushindamo.  

On the final workshop of the Gender Mainstreaming programme in Dar es Salaam, we had the honor to learn about Luckson Mulumbi’s experiences and views on the development of local democracy and gender equality. We present him here in our series “Champions of Local Democracy”.

Gender Mainstreaming Programme 

During a period of 18 months, the newly established council of Mushindamo has been working on a change process to gender mainstream planning and budgeting processes within the district. As a part of the North-Western region of Zambia, a part of a fast-growing mining district adjacent to the Copperbelt Province with about 130 000 inhabitants, Luckson explains his excitement to earn new perspectives from his attending peers from municipalities in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. 

– We share quite a lot in terms of engagement of how their system works. So, linking up with these colleagues gives me a deeper insight. If we can get political will and understanding for gender issues, it is very helpful to influence decisions.  

Although the district is a newcomer, Luckson explains that strong patriarchal structures, cultural traditions and rigid discriminatory mindsets at the local level have hindered social development, especially regarding gender equality. As a witness of how his own family was affected negatively of rooted structures in the local rural society, Luckson has a personal political vocation to work for democratic development and gender inclusion. He explains that when he was a young boy, a former politician wronged his grandmother through seizing her huge piece of land, to extend an already extensive mine. 

– My grandmother never derived the value of that asset. Because she was a woman and an African. She was not in a situation of power.  

When I came into the public space, I realized that still, women were not having access to security of tenure for their land value. 

But due to Luckson and his council’s hard work, Mushindamo is evolving. A trend towards greater female influence in local politics and society is slowly emerging as more women begin to take on leadership positions. Luckson argues that this is due to a change in attitudes among the population and local politicians, placing issues of gender mainstreaming higher on the agenda. He explains that the promotion of gender mainstreaming is something that motivates him on a personal level, as he doesn’t want his daughters to grow up experiencing the same inequality as his grandmother. 

– I want my girls to be treated equally, I want my girls to grow up in a society that respects them as equal citizens. I do not want anybody to look down on them for being girls. So, it builds like that. We have made a lot of progress. Where we ought to be and where we are going is that in the next five, ten years, we will see a community and society that is predominately driven by women, and we are getting closer by the day. 

The Zambian election 

In August 2021, national elections were held in Zambia resulting in the installation of the opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema as the new president. The party of Hichilema, the United Party for National Development (UPND) to which Luckson Mulumbi also belongs, gained a majority of seats in the national assembly. Election analyzes indicated that young voters played an important role in the outcome and Luckson is confident and optimistic that local democracy and social development will be higher prioritized in the future. 

– The current thinking of the new government and new president is that you need to remove this money from the center and take it down to the structures. To local people. So, there is a massive plan for this decentralization and a lot more money coming to the local level.  

What that means is now that women have an opportunity to be able to tap into this resource that is coming down. 

When elaborating upon visions for further development towards greater gender equality, Luckson emphasizes institutionalization, and the importance of local democracy. 

– When we get more people to feel part of the open process of democracy, the more we allow women to voice out, the more we allow both men and women to respect human rights, the more we allow men and women to participate in building stronger institutions. So, there is a very close relationship when building gender mainstreaming and democracy essentially.  

Luckson explains that it is crucial to break down cultural barriers, as well as finding opportunities in cultural systems to promote gender issues and transparent spaces for democracy 

– We can not only deal with breaking down cultural barriers but look at finding opportunities in the already existing cultural systems to promote gender issues and open spaces for democracy within our communities.  

For me, that is the essence of democracy. It’s about changing communities. It’s about fighting poverty and making sure that people can live dignified lives. 

About our series Champions of Local Democracy

Within this series, we tell personal stories about individuals who inspire others and let democratic values live on. Regardless of gender, status or the burdensome situations that they might have endured, they have never backed away from the democratic frontline. Our champions has been, or is currently, a part of our operations at ICLD. Read former portraits

Champions of Local Democracy, lokal demokratihjälte,