Gender imbalance rocks parliamentary candidature in Lilongwe

The forthcoming tripartite election will be hit by low participation of women in the parliamentary race in Lilongwe according to the figures that have been released by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), a development which some quarters have described as worrisome.

The figures released by the electoral body on March 4, 2014 show that out of the 144 prospective candidates who have been duly nominated only 33 are women.

This development defeats the whole purpose being championed by the government and SADC 50-50 campaign which they have been advocating to increase women participation in decision making positions in all sectors of life.

Kaliya:  We will try our best
Kaliya: We will try our best

Speaking in an interview Rita Kalanje an Assistant District Civic Education Officer for National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) for Lilongwe said she believes that the development is as a result of manipulation of primary elections in most political parties which left most prospective women candidates feel betrayed.

“Most of our political parties don’t have deliberate policies that promote women participation in decision making positions. The other reason which we have heard is that primary elections that were supposed to elect candidates to represent parties at both parliamentary and councillorship level were heavily manipulated in favor of men,” said Kalanje.

She further said support for women have dwindled significantly as compared to 2009 General elections where most non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) had programs that encouraged women participation mainly due to donor fatigue which has seen many such organizations which were accredited to conduct voter and civic education has not been funded.

Felicity Kachiza who will represent United Democratic Front (UDF) in Lilongwe City North said she is very disappointed with what most men are saying about women candidates especially in her constituency saying as women they have a negative model at the very top.

Kachiza, who comes from a constituency which is a stronghold of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), said the people are openly saying that women will face an uphill task in this election so much so that in the last elections where they managed a 20-30% representation this time around they will have less than 15%.

“The places I have been campaigning I have been told that they would rather have a cabinet of men only as it used to happen during the first head of State Dr Kamuzu Banda. This is very disappointing. They should judge us as individuals because we need support from all the people. Because most of us are developmental conscious. Do they want us to go back to the kitchen?” wondered Kachiza.

A female candidate who failed to make it in primaries of one of major parties Miriam Banda said the main problem is most people underrate women because of other women who hold influential position in society do not perform well in their undertakings.

“What was needed was those women who failed in party primaries should have contested as independents.  Women are the worst enemies of themselves because most of them do not believe that their fellow woman can lead them.  Men have also lost trust in women because of underperformance,” said Banda.

Recently head of Gender Coordination Network Emma Kaliya told the media that their organization will try their level best that the 50-50 campaign should be a success.

“Although we don’t have enough resources we will try our level best that women and men numbers should be equal in Parliament. I want to ask women that we should hold hands that this should be fulfilled,” she said.

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