28 automatic seats for women MPs was best idea – Activist

The push for more women members of parliament was dealt a blow when the government said it would not consider a proposal to create 28 automatic seats for women. Malawi ranks among the countries within the South African Development Community and world where women are underrepresented in government.

Kaliya: 28-seat idea was the best option to increase women MPs

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu said the government removed the provision because it would be a disadvantage to women candidates in some constituencies.

He said the provision would also involve a laborious and complicated legal process, including amending constitutional provisions and other electoral laws.

Activists appeal

Proponents of the provision say its removal is unfortunate.

Esmie Kainja, a member of the Special Law Commission that came up with the proposal, told reporters the 28-seat idea was the best option among many that were intended to increase the number of women in parliament.

“There were many options [which were rejected],” she said. “There was an issue of taking quotas at [the] party level; there was another option of just taking one constituent per district to be attached to women that also did not work.”

She said although the proposed 28 seats might sound irrational, it gave an assurance that Malawi would achieve at least 30 percent female representation in parliament as required by the SADC Protocol, which the bloc adopted in 2008 with the goal of ensuring equal rights for women and an end to discrimination.

Out of 193 members in Malawi’s parliament, only 32 are women.

’50-50 campaign’

Emma Kaliya is the national coordinator for the NGO Gender Coordination Network, which has long headed Malawi’s “50-50 campaign” for equal gender representation.

“For the executive to remove that recommendation, now I am beginning to doubt if Malawi is really serious about achieving gender equality and women empowerment in the area of politics,” she said. “And it is very sad that it is happening to us in this way.”

Kaliya said Malawi should have learned from countries like South Africa, Mozambique and Uganda, where similar provisions have helped increase the number of women in decision-making positions.

“We need to impress on government that they have an obligation to make things work for everybody in Malawi on politics and outside politics,” she said. “And this is about gender equality.”

Gender activists say they are attempting to have the provision reconsidered.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

Big up to government for trashing and sending this proposed and crooked provision for women to get into parliament at the expense of deserving men. The problem with Malawians is that they want to solve long term and systemic problems with short-term solutions. In my view, the feminists masquerading as gender activists must start working on strategies that will ensure more women go to parliament on merit in the next 20 years. Otherwise izi akuchitazi ndikulowana mkabudula kumeneku! Asaaa!

Systems Thinker
Systems Thinker
4 years ago
Reply to  Thubwe

KK exactly my bro

Concerned citizen
4 years ago

Competence is what matters.

We are extremely underdeveloped. Leave these gimmicks to the developed world.

Let us ensure there are adequate resources to ensure ladies have the skills to competently compete.

Systems Thinker
Systems Thinker
4 years ago

Why should we have equal representation of men and women in government? Why is this being mainly pushed by women only? And why must I be stopped from contesting in my constituency because of this provision? There is a myth that if we have more women then thats an automatic key to socio-economic development, really? Did I hear you well guys? Dont you think that all we need are competent and patriotic leaders not attached to any biological connotations as is the case now? I think you women must find better ways of empowering your colleagues so that they should… Read more »

Read previous post:
George Weah elected Liberian president: Ex-Chelsea, AC Milan & Man City striker

Ex- footballsuperstar George Weah was announced the winner on Thursday of Liberia's presidential run-off, beating Vice President Joseph Boakai in...