One of the 50-50 Management Agency consortium members ActionAid Malawi has slamed President Peter Mutharika reduction of women from four to three in a 20-member Cabinet.
Reacting to the President’s new Cabinet hired on Wednesday night, a statement signed by 50-50 Campaign Team Leader Viwemi Chavula and ActionAid Malawi Executive Director Grace Tikambenji Malera, the agency has said the Cabinet significantly reverses the progress the country is making in achieving the gender equality obligations firmly entrenchedin various laws of Malawi, including the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
“This severe gender imbalance in the Cabinet casts serious doubts and brings into question both the President’s and Government’s commitment to the agenda of increased representation of women in politics,” the statement reads.
“This development underminesthe very ethos of gender equality and attendant obligations on affirmative action which this country requires for the empowerment of women. This is in line with Government of Malawi’s obligations under both national and international laws. The development also put into question thePresident’s commitment on his role as a HeForShe Global Champion whereby the President committed to achieve gender parity by 2020 and deliver change from the top.”
It adds that coming ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections and at a time when Malawi is vigorously driving the campaign for increased representation of women as well as gender parity in all sectors, especially in politics, “this development is not only seriously retrogressive, but also a huge drawback on the agenda for increased representation of women in politics.”
The agency said Malawi will not attain sustainable development if women are left on the peripheral of critical political decision-making spaces.
“It is imperative that Malawi reaches a turning point on women empowerment especially in leadership and politics, where women have continued to be severely underrepresented.
“Therefore, the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment should not be an afterthought but an integral and explicit and demonstrable component of the President’s actions and decisions.”
The agency statement comes after the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and the Coalition for the Empowerment of Women and Girls (Cewag) have asked the United Nations (UN) Women to strip Mutharika of his title as the HeforShe Champion.
In a letter dated November 8 2018 to UN Women headquarters in New York, the HRDC observes that Mutharika has consistently flouted principles of the HeforShe campaign, which challenge leaders to champion gender equality, among others.
Besides the recent Cabinet appointments, the HRDC also cites a 2016 example when the President appointed only one woman as a commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission in a seven-member team.
The Gender Equality Act of 2013, for instance, requires 60:40 representation in public offices.
The Ministry of Gender Children, Disability and Social Welfare, in conjunction with the 50:50 Campaign Management Agency, launched the 50:50 campaign in May this year aimed at increasing women participation in politics and lobbying political parties to develop strategies that will make participation of women possible.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :