Gender activist says election impasse to increase sense of insecurity among women

NGO-Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN) Observer Mission to the country’s tripartite polls, has called on the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to ensure that all complaints lodged by female candidates are properly recorded in a sex disaggregated format and that are effectively dealt with before they escalate and cause serious disturbances.

The observer team noted a number of serious irregularities in the period before, during and after polling.

NGOGCN chairperson Emma Kaliya cited minimal assistance to pregnant women and unsecured ballot boxes as some of the challenges and irregularities that “disproportionately and negatively” affected women voters more than male voters.

Kaliya:  Concerns

Kaliya: Concerns

“There was evidence for example, of women who gave up voting after waiting for too long for the polling station to open and women could not vote late in the evening for safety reasons.

“A number of complaints have been filed by female candidates citing most irregularities,” said Kaliya.

She further said the irregularities will adversely affect the credibility of the results, undermine the electoral process and cause increasing anxiety and a sense of insecurity among the citizens in the country.

“We request the political party that would next government to ensure increased security in the country to reduce the rising sense of insecurity among Malawians, especially women and other vulnerable groups,” said Kaliya.

NGOGCN also says there was a hostile environment for female candidates during the campaign period, created by fellow candidates who, she said, were using intimidating and derogatory language, and some cases incited violence against female candidates.

Kaliya, however, said it was pleasing to note increased number of female electoral officials and a high number of women who turned out to vote.

“The Observer Mission noted, with appreciation, the participation of women in the 2014 elections including two female presidential candidates out of 12 candidates; 261 female parliamentary candidates out of 1288; and 417 female candidates who contested as councillors out of 2378 candidates,” she explained.

NGOGCN, established in 1998, is a grouping of gender and human rights NGOs that are promoting gender equality and equity including equal participation of women in politics.

It is also a leading implementer of the 50-50 campaign in the 2014 tripartite elections

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