Protests organised by the Women Manifesto Movement comprising various women empowerment civil society organisations (CSOs), pressing for equal representation should not be taken lightly, an influential Malawian newspaper has said in an editorial comment.
Women held street protests Friday and accused President Lazarus Chakwera of failing to fulfill the Gender Equality Act which requires 60-40 representation of either men or women in public appointments.
At a news conference marking his 100 days in office on Monday, President Chakwera said the low female representation is because he could not find well-qualified women to fill the cabinet posts.
Chakwera challenged women’s rights groups to provide him with candidates for top-level positions.
The Weekend Nation newspaper in its editorial comment said Chakwera’s remakrs “could not have come from the same man that promised change of a system that oppressed women.”
In the editorial, the paper said the anger, therefore at Chakwera, during the nationwide marches on Friday is “justified.”
Reads the editorial: “Women have a right to raise concerns about a system that oppresses them and does not respect the rule of law on equal representation.”
It said the Malawi women feel “let down” by Chakwera’s “insensitivity to gender equality.”
The paper said Chakwera must, therefore, do the right thing “by ensuring that there is equal representation in the new government.”
Nonetheless, the paper pointed out that, the fight, as one of the protesters on Friday put it, is not against Chakwera, but for the system to change.
“All what women want is a system that promotes equal representation. Mr President, the law is clear, do the right thing,” concludes the paper.
Some analysts said Chakwera should be given more time to fulfill his promises because he has just clocked his first 100 days in office.
But feminist Ulemu Hanna Kanyongolo said the law is not negotiable.
“It’s never too soon to respect the law and it’s clear the qualified women are there,” Kanyongolo said. “So there is no excuse for him to violate the law. The law you don’t negotiate and he knew that before he took the oath of office.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Kathewera Banda who led Friday’s protests in Blantyre, and is executive director of a lobby group Women’s Manifesto, has said she may take legal action should government fail to follow the Gender Equality Act.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :