President Peter Mutharika has hit back at critics who say his newly hired Cabinet is gender insensitive, saying the private sector has less women in decision making positions, throwing away any ray of hope that he will increase the number of women in the male dominated 20-member cabinet.
The President has been facing mounting pressure from women’s groups to increase the number of females in his Cabinet and parastatal boards after the President reduced women representation in his Cbainet from four to three last week.
His comments come barely a day after Women Lawyers Associationmarched to the Office of the President and Cabinet to petition the President to reconsider his decision on women representation as provided for by the law.
The lawyers described as worrying a trend that fewer women are being appointed as Cabinet ministers or heads of boards for State-owned enterprises and accused Mutharika of violating the Constitution by sidelining women.
But speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday when he presided over the graduation ceremony of students from the University of Malawi, Mutharika said he is committed to putting women in decision making positions but said this was the task of not only the government but even the private sector and other institutions.
“The responsibility of promoting women is not for the government alone. How many women are CEOs in the private sector,” said Mutharika, stressing there are less chief executive officers in the private sector.
He said the government is striving to ensure gender equality , saying Malawi must be an inclusive society that empowers the youth and women.
“I will continue appointing women of merit to decision making levels. We have begun this process. I appointed the first female Vice Chancellor in this country. I have appointed the first female Chief Commissioner of Prisons. I have appointed a female Clerk of Parliament and Ombudsman. I have appointed a female Chairperson for Malawi Electoral Commission and the Commission has a majority of women members. This is a process that we have begun,” said Mutharika.
The President said he has appointed many more women into various positions because he believes in empowering women, citing the appointment of the female Ombudsman, the Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson, two new female judges and the secretary general of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Ironically, Mutharika’s traditional political archrival, the UTM party has a female secretary general, Patricia Kaliati.
The President said even some of those who are attacking government do not have women in their leadership levels.
“So, let us stop being hypocrites and advance women in our society,” he said.
However, Mutharika did not touch the issue of Charles Mchacha, an embattled DPP regional governor for the south whom the President has just appointed deputy minister but women activists want him rescind appointment into Cabinet for purportedly demeaning women participating in public affairs and holding a different political view..
Mchacha has been calling women who join UTM as prostitutes, remarks that have angered women activists, saying such remarks are demeaning and prevent women from taking up politics as a career.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :