Coalition for the Empowerment of Women and Girls (CEWAG) and civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) have written United Nations (UN) to strip Malawin President Peter Mutharika the accolade of the global champion for the HeforShe campaign accusing of “wilfully” undermining the gender equality agenda.
Mutharika was appointed in June along with nine other heads of State from Finland, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Romania, Rwanda and Sweden, among others who also displayed substantial commitment in advancing gender equality globally.
HeforShe initiative is a solidarity movement for gender equality that engages men and boys as advocates and stakeholders to break the silence, raise their voices and take action for the achievement of gender equality.
But after a Cabinet reshuffle that has reduced women representation in the 20-member team from four to three and appointing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Southern Region governor Charles Mchacha, who has been slut-shaming women in public as Deputy Minister of Homeland Security, has prompted for protests of CEWAG and HRD.
Beatrice Mateyo of CEWAG said they have observed a “troubling trend” in that the President is not conducting himself in a manner which is contributing to the goals of the HeforShe campaign.
“On behalf of Malawian Women, I am appalled by the conduct that has been shown by His Excellency, the President of The Republic of Malawi in His capacity as the HeforShe Champion of the UN Women.
“I expected that this accolade bestowed on Him would have translated into action where he would be at forefront of promoting gender equality in appointing women to positions, serving as a public champion for change and not just mere rhetoric,” Mateyo said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.
Mateyo said there has been arginalization of women in all appointments to the Cabinet and other high-level positions in government and statutory bodies which have not been in line with the Gender Equality Act (2013) requirement of 60:40 representation.
“The least we expected from him as a seasoned legal mind and a guardian of the Malawian constitution was that he would abide by this legal requirement or supersede its expectations,” she said.
She also accused the President of remaining silent in the face of acts of violence that have been committed by the ruling DPP and “shockingly rewarding” perpetrators of gender-based violence in the political space with a high-level position, notably the recent ministerial appointment of Mchacha “soon after publicly calling women ‘prostitutes’ just because they showed dissenting views.”
And HRD in a separate statement addressed to the Head of UN Women in New York also seen by Nyasa Times, said the HeForShe guiding principles state that the leaders chosen are supposed to be at the forefront of gender equality, serving as public champions for change, and committing to concrete progress within their own countries but fauled Mutharika that he has acted many times to the contrary.
The statement signed by Timothy Mtambo, Gift Trapence , Billy Mayaya and Mateyo, said n 2016, only one woman was appointed as a commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission from a total list of seven commissioners.
They have also cited the recent appointment of Cabinet Ministers on November 7 2018 as “a key indicator of his lack of commitments for He for She aspirations. “
The CSOs said despite Malawi having signed progressive human rights instruments on women’s rights and gender equality such as Convention on Elimination of All Forms Discrimination (CEDAW), African Protocol on Women’s Rights and SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, these international instruments are just on paper.
“Additionally, Malawi has progressive gender related provisions such as Section 11 of Malawi’s Gender Equality Act (GEA) which the President has continuously disregarded despite calls from stakeholders and civil society,” the statement adds.
The activists said the issue of Gender Equality and inclusion of Women is a matter of principle at domestic level and international level.
“We are standing on matters of principle and to us these are non negotiable.”
They are calling for the immediate removal of the President of Malawi as the HeforShe Champion.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :