On Jan. 26, newly elected President Edgar Lungu appointed Inonge Wina vice president of Zambia. Mrs. Wina is the highest ranking woman in a government position in Zambian history, which is an honor for the entire Wina family—Performing Arts instructor and niece Mpambo Wina included.
“We’re just so immensely proud. You know, there’s just a pride. Not only because she’s my aunt but also because she is a woman who has attained the highest level office as a woman in the country,” Wina said.
Although Zambia has a positive history of women in power in tribal settings, according to Wina, Mrs. Wina’s status is inspirational. The highly respected Wina legacy combined with Mrs. Wina’s work prior to obtaining this position has allowed the vice president to smoothly assume her position. Her appointment sends an empowering message to women everywhere.
“And I think that particularly for young women … that’s going to give them a lot more confidence, you know, and a lot more opportunity,” Wina said, admiring her aunt as a role model for women.
Mrs. Wina’s passion for gender equality and women’s rights, according to the Republic of Zambia’s Ministry of Gender and Child Development, has driven her throughout her life to both volunteer and play instrumental roles in organizations that work to better women’s situations. She has served as president of the Young Women’s Christian Association of Zambia and has succeeded in promoting women’s human rights, specifically through the establishment of the Zambia Police Service affiliated Victim Support Units, which aims to protect victims of domestic abuse. She was elected National Chairperson of the NGO Coordinating Council of Zambia in 1996, led the women’s movement in the red ribbon campaign in the defense of the Zambian Constitution, has served as a director on numerous boards in the public sector, including refugee services, social services, University Teaching Hospital, the University of Zambia Council, and the family company Namboma Holding Limited.
In addition to Mrs. Wina’s participation in the social services and human rights activism in Zambia, she has worked her way up to earning her current vice presidential position by being active in other governmental branches in recent years. In 2009, Mrs. Wina was appointed to the Central Committee of the Patriotic Front and later elected the National Chairperson for the Patriotic Front (PF), which is the political party to which Mrs. Wina and President Lungu belong. Mrs. Wina won the parliamentary seat in Nalolo Constituency on the PF ticket and became the first Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs in 2011 for the then new PF government. Mrs. Wina then worked for the Ministry of Gender and Child Development, which was created “to ensure effective and focuses delivery by government on issues of gender,” according to the Ministry’s website.
Wina emphasized that her aunt’s achievements began at a grassroots level. The Winas are a family of politicians. Their legacy in Zambia lends them great respect, but the work has always been done from the bottom levels upward. Wina’s father and Mrs. Wina’s late husband, Arthur Wina, were key freedom fighters in Zambia’s fight against Great Britain for independence, which it won in 1964.
“She never pulled herself away from the people, and I think that’s a wonderful example for young people in general but I think specifically for young women. Get involved and understand every level. Every level,” Wina said.
One of Mrs. Wina’s most recent endeavors as the new vice president is to try to link the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) more closely with the Zambian government, according to the Lusaka Times (Lusaka is the capital of Zambia). The BRE is the monarchy of the Lozi people, an ethnic group that mostly inhabits Western Zambia. Mrs. Wina seeks to promote more development in their province. Mrs. Wina’s experience, tact and respectability, according to Wina, will serve her well in accomplishing the tasks she seeks to conquer.
“She’s one of these women—she’s just really incredible because when you meet her, she’s very much a lady, very, you know, not soft-spoken as in meek, but she’s not going to brandish with her intelligence,” Wina said.