Malawi: Alliance bemoans fluff on achievement of 50/50 representation

Malawi: Alliance bemoans fluff on achievement of 50/50 representation

Date: June 8, 2015
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Blantyre, 8 June:The stakeholders at the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance bemoaned the failure by Malawi to meet the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol on gender and Development.

The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance is made up of focal networks in all fifteen SADC countries and also brings together regional NGOS, Men for gender equality, and faith based organizations to profile advances and challenges in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Speaking during the Alliance meeting held as part of the Malawi SADC Gender Protocol Summit, the chairperson for the Non Government Organisation Gender Coordination Network, Emma Kaliya observed that Malawi has a long way to meet the 28 targets set by SADC Member despite numerous efforts and gains made.

“The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development does not come to an end this year. However, the 28 targets expire this year in December without full materialisation. There is still a lot that we need to work on.” said Kaliya.

Kaliya pointed out that the 2014 Gender Barometer shows that gains have been made in areas like education, health and legal environment. She gave an example of attainment of gender parity in terms of enrolment at primary school level and narrowing the gender gap in access to education. Nevertheless, She pointed out that each sector has major setbacks, saying the education sector for example has many girls still dropping out of education due to many reasons, including early marriage, teenage pregnancy and lack of female boarding schools.

Kaliya also lamented that there are some civil society leaders who deliberately frustrate gender equality efforts by working behind the scenes to discourage women empowerment.

Reacting to the observation that public institutions in general and appointing authorities deliberately flout provisions of the Gender Equality Act, some of the representatives from the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) argued that it is time they join hands and call government authorities to account for their impunity through the courts of law.

Citing an example of poor representation of women on the National Aids Commission (NAC) Board, CSOs representatives say that their silence on such issues is a contributing factor to the incessant gender inequality in the country.
Others members of the Alliance expressed concern over the deep divisions that officials in the CSOs create among themselves, saying such divisions weaken the gender equality drive.

As participants took turns in commenting on the performance of the Alliance in advancing gender equality, the general observation was that negative attitudes towards women impede the progress towards the 50/50 representation of men and women in political decision-making positions.

“We don’t know what happens in our country that fellow women are in the fore front discouraging others on voting for women during the election campaign.” Complained activist Emmie Chanika.

Concurring with Chanika, Halima Daudi former Minister of Environment, who is also pivotal in gender issues talk, expressed dismay over lack of support among women.

According to Daudi is unfortunate that women in Malawi give time to pulling each other down instead of supporting one another.

She argues that for Malawi to meet some of the targets, women need to support one another and provide comfort to others that are either contesting for posts or those that hold one.

However, the academia complained that some women do not gather courage in order to take up most challenging positions.

Head of Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the Malawi Polytechnic, Maclain Kanyang’wa expressed a shock that when the University advertises for employment opportunity, few or no women apply.

“It worries the University that women do not come out to apply when we advertise for the job vacancy. This also contributes to low representation of women in teaching and other decision-making positions in our departments.” Said Kanyang’wa.

As part of suggested solution to the University issue, participants recommended that the University should embark on sponsoring the best performing students who can work as associate lecturers before they get permanent jobs.

Veteran politician, Margaret Ali, declared that it was high time Malawians worked together in fighting for women empowerment.

She urged the government to put up deliberate affirmative action measures to address the challenge of poor women representation in political and public decision-making positions in the country.

During the alliance meeting, Kaliya also called upon the media fraternity intensify investigative and analytical reporting in order to expose gender disparities in all sectors of the society.

“There are some areas in the country where women are not accorded the same rights as men. These include organisations in the private sector whereby up to date some companies do not have female employees. Hence, the media name and shame such organisations”, challenged Kaliya. Exposing such case, she believes, can make a difference in the fight for equal rights between men and women.

Responding to the recommendation, Wezzie Nyirongo, Capital Radio reporter, called for sustained partnership and sharing of information between NGO’s fighting for gender equality and the media.

“The media does not operate on its own, it relies on news sources to give them tips. Therefore, the civil society should be open to share information that needs media coverage”, explains Nyirongo.

The Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance is a regional network of networks that champions the adoption of the SADC protocol on gender and development (2008). With its slogan, yes we must! The alliance now focuses on the implementation of the 28 targets to be attained by December, 2015, and on the post 2015 agenda. The alliance produces an annual barometer that tracks progress using the SADC Gender and Development Index (SGD) and the Citizen Score Card.

This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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