The 50-50 Campaign Management Agency, a consortium of civil society organisations (CSOs) running the campaign is due to be launched on April 6 2018 and has received a K1.1 billion financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy to ensure more women win in 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The 50:50 Malawi Campaign, on Tuesday held an interaction dinner with general secretaries of nine political parties including Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democratic Front (UDF), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), United Independent Party (UIP) and People’s Party (PP) with a major focus on establishing deliberate strategies parties have developed to improve women representation in elected positions.
Action Aid Malawi (AAM) executive director Grace Malera said political parties were custodians of the 50:50 Campaign because without their support, women participation in politics could not be increased.
She said the campaign wants to work closely with parties to ensure meaningful inclusion of women from councilor level to that of Member of Parliament.
With dominant challenges like discrimination, violence and lack of economic capacity frustrating the majority of women in politics, the consortium feels there is need for proper coordination and programming around the electoral cycle for the campaign to make a difference.
“The campaign wants to open the social space for women participation starting from primary elections to actual elections and beyond.
“This will require us working together with parties and individuals towards having a critical mass of women participation at all levels for the attainment of the country’s sustainable development,” Malera said.
Team leader for the 50:50 Campaign, Viwemi Chavula highlighted some of the actions political parties are supposed to take to improve women participation.
Some of the actions included having a deliberate female recruiting strategy for the elections, deliberate quotas and targets for women and development of a code of conduct for party meetings and events.
“Let us have these affirmative action steps in creating a political system that promotes women participation,” Chavula said.
MCP deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said there was a need to have programmes that address people’s mindsets.
“There is a need to entrench the mindset that they should support women, in their capacity to deliver, not just because they are women,” he said.
Mkaka said political parties are always ready to promote equal participation but pointed out that women themselves should demonstrate the willingness to take up the challenge.
“Women have to prove that they can deliver because they will never get a sympathy vote. All what parties can do is to provide resources for the women to unleash their potential,” Mkaka said.
DPP deputy director of women Yacinta Chikaonda said the party would aim to have a deliberate policy to have a quota for women in various positions.
She said retention of women currently in Parliament was the first step for Malawians to realise that women could make good political leaders.
UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo said the party as it prepares for its convention, a fundamental constititutional amendment would be proposed to ensure the women’s wing is autonomous.
In Aford, the party said it is due to propose an amendment to the Constitution at its next convention that would ensure a 40 percent representation in NEC and other leadership levels.
It was PP’s treasurer general Yusuf Matumula’s proposal that for political parties to increase women participation in politics, the 50:50 Campaign should start during primary elections for more women to be nominated to contest.
The campaign has since planned to create an incubator for women to express themselves as they aspire to enter political leadership as well as offering trainings for women aspirants on to enhance their profiles, communicate better and advocate for more spaces for women in decision making.
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