President Lazarus Chakwera and the Judicial Service Commission who took part in the appointment process of 12 High Court judges have been commended by gender activists led by Women’s Manifesto Movement for appointing six of them female judges thereby implementing equal gender representation.
Out of the 12 judicial personnel that have been appointed as High Court judges, six are women —Agnes Thokozani Patemba; Anneline Kanthambi, Vikochi Chima; Violet Chipao; Maureen Kondowe and Charlotte Wezi Malonda.
The President also promoted High Court Judge Ivy Kamanga to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal alongside three male judges – Healy Potani, John Katsala and Charles Mkandawire.
Seasoned human rights activist, Emma Kaliya said this is the way forward that women should be recognised in positions of influence if they deserve the honour, saying all the lady judges that have been appointed are equal to the task given to them.
Kaliya said in her keynote address as well as her presentation of the consultative meeting of the local level Beijing+25 Platform for Action held at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre on Monday.
The conference has been organised by several feminist rights CSOs, that include Kaliya’s Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC); Women Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC); NABW; ActionAid; Plan International with funding from Urgent Action Fund Africa.
Kaliya’s sentiments on the equal gender appointment of the judges received a huge round of applause from the participants from the health sector, magistrates, lawyers, police victim support unit (VSU) women officers, business women and women Councillors.
It also attracted women’s rights NGOs, senior female media practitioners, rural women, teachers/lecturers, the City Assembly official and young female students.
This comes hot on heels of recent condemnation from gender activists over the under-representation of women in Chakwera appointments of boards of directors of parastatals and low female representation in Chakwera’s 31-member cabinet, where only four women were given full ministerial positions.
Women’s Manifesto Movement — a consortium of gender equality organizations — went on to organise demostrations early this month in major cities across the country to show their discontent with the unequal representation.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, Maggie Kathewera Banda is also Women’s Movement leader said she was impressed with the appointment of equal number of men and women to the High Court of Malawi bench.
“We made our concerns when the board appointments were made and we can see now that there is a change of direction. We want to commend the President and salute him for complying with Gender Equality Act,” said Banda.
The 50-50 Campaign Management Agency also applauded Chakwera and the Tonse Alliance administration for upholding Gender Equality Act.
Viwemi Chavula, who is also Country Director of the 50-50 Management Agency, observed that for the first time, Malawi has achieved equal representation of men and women in High Court appointments.
“We also applaud the Judicial Services Commission for the recommendations they made,” said Chavula in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.
Chavula said the “well gender balanced appointment” of the High Court Judges demonstrates President Chakwera’s political will and “willingness to listen and respect all voices in line with the Tonse philosophy.”
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, who is official government spokesperson, said the Tonse Allinace administration is committed to empowering women.
“It is a process, not an event. This is why we asked the women of this country to be patient and give their government time to ensure we work together to galvanise this process that is meant to last for generations,” Kazako said.
He added that Chakwera has embarked on a process of social construction that will see women in positions they have longed to be.
“President Chakwera is addicted to the habit of keeping his word and when he has decided to do something, he does not shake with any force contrary to what he wants to achieve. He proves his decision by actions,” Kazako said.
The Gender Equality Act says that in appointing all positions of influence, there must be not less than 40 percent and not more that 60 percent of either sex.
The equal representation of women and men in positions of influence is one of the agendas that the global women’s conference held in Beijing 25 years ago discussed for member countries to address.
Monday’s Beijing+25 Platform for Action conference was to address if any achievements have been made 25 years down the line.
Kaliya told the enthusiastic delegates that the Beijing conference, that drew over 40,000 and had former President Joyce Banda as part of the Malawi delegation then, formulated most effective and comprehensive global policy framework and a roadmap for achieving gender equality and women’s rights.
She observed that there had been gradual progress toward gender equality and women’s empowerment across the world in which most members translated the commitments made into concrete strategies.
“However, structural inequalities still persist in many countries, preventing the full achievement of women rights and gender equality,” she said.
“It’s time now that we demanded the space that we want and nobody else can do it for us but ourselves,” said the seasoned activist, who is the executive director of MHRRC, chairperson of SADC gender alliance, UN Champion of Equal Pain and is active in several other international human rights fora.
She said she was pleased that the country’s feminist CSO’s advocacy is working as evidenced by the President in making sure there in equal representation in the appointment of the judges.
“Get very angry if things are not going your way, don’t smile at mediocrity but ask what is rightfully yours,” she told the women delegates, attracting a huge round of applause.
The interactive conference, through group participation, consulted on the progress of the 12 themes that Malawi has been tasked to handle as formulated from the global Beijing conference held in 1995 in China.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :