Women Lawyers Association have threatened redress “elsewhere” if President Peter Mutharika fails to respond to their petition of the firing of Deputy Minister of Homeland Charles Mchacha and other gender issues within a ‘reasonable time.’
Women Lawyers Association’s research and advocacy coordinator Dr. Benedetta Malunga said Mutharika did not address a single concern of the three point petition which the association presented to him on Monday.
“Some people say he has responded through his speech at the graduation ceremony of the University of Malawi students that is not true. He has not responded to our concerns. None of the three issues we raised to him had been addressed,” said Malunga.
She said the lawyers have given the President a “reasonable” time to respond before taking another course of action.
In his speech on Wednesday, Mutharika 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.
He avoided mentioning the women lawyers although his comments came barely a day after the women lawyers in the country marched to deliver through Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Lloyd Muhara, where they asked Mutharika to increase the number of women in the Cabinet as provided for by the law.
Currently, there are only three women ministers down from four.
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.
“How many private institutions have more women? There are fewer chief executive officers in the private sector,” he said.
He said the government is striving to ensure gender equality 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, UTM party has a female secretary general, Patricia Kaliati.
However, Mutharika did not touch the issue of Mchacha, governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor for the South who is under fire 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.
The lawyers’ appeal comes hot on the heels of similar calls by the 50:50 Campaign Management Agency—an institution championing gender equality in elected political positions—which has faulted the President for reducing the number of women in Cabinet.
On women representation in crucial bodies, 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.
“The decision to appoint less women is in violation of our Constitution which in Section 13 declares to be a principle of our national policy to actively promote welfare and development of our people pushing for gender equality through the full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on basis of equal opportunities with men,” reads part of the letter signed by the association’s president Sarai Chisala-Tempelhoff.
The women lawyers further stressed that the Gender Equality Act of 2013 strengthens the need to promote gender equality, equal integration, influence, empowerment, dignity and opportunities for men and women in all functions of society.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :