Malawi: Gender equality is possible

Malawi: Gender equality is possible

Date: September 9, 2014
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Lilongwe, 1 May: Malawi women continue to be exposed to gender inequality in all settings despite numerous policies that have been put in place to promote gender equality. With less than 16 months before the 2015 deadline for achieving the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol, progress towards gender equality remains slow.

Women constitute 22% in parliament and 30% in cabinet. Malawi is set to achieve 50% women’s representation in both parliament and local government. The country has been on a 50/ 50 campaign trail and elections are taking place on 20 May. The campaign has reached its peak since and civil society organisations are set to influence the new government to put 50% women in cabinet.

Since the launch of the 50-50 campaign in 2009, Malawi has statistically made strides in promoting women’s participation in positions of decision-making. Malawi had only 27 female members of parliament in 2004.

Currently 261 women are aspiring for parliamentary seats in 131 constituencies. If 97 women win seats, the country will reach the 50% women’s representation in parliament target.

In local government, 417 women candidates are contesting in 462 wards, which gives gender equality campaigners hope of achieving the 50% women’s representation in local government target, should 231 women candidates win.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the three day SADC Protocol@Work Summit in Malawi held at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, Emma Kaliya, chair of the NGO Coordinating Network and Alliance focal point in Malawi, said the summit emphasised intensifying the 50/50 campaign.

A lot still needs to be done to achieve the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

“The 2013 Malawi SADC Gender Protocol Barometer points that the media in in the country face a lot of challenges in promoting or covering gender related issues. There is a general, lack of editorial independence of the journalists in different media houses. We need to let go of some of the religious and social prejudices because they impede on individual human rights, and perhaps we can overcome patriarchal tendencies,” said Funghai Mutsinze of Radio Maria Malawi.

Echoing Mutsinze’s sentiments, Steve Botha of Human Rights Consultative Committee said there is need to increase media coverage on issues of climate change to reduce effects on women and children.

In her closing remarks, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children Affairs and Social welfare, Dr. Mary Shawa said the summit remains a valuable platform to take stock of progress in the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and recommitment by government to support the gender agenda.

“Progress is better measured by what we should have done other than only what we have done. We have moved but we should have been somewhere far ahead of where we are now. As a ministry we will continue to contribute towards the implementation of the SADC Gender Protocol to ensure that by 2015, which is not far, women and men are in a better place”
Shawa said programmes like Gender and Women’s Empowerment funded by the European Union through UNFPA, is one intervention that will assist is fast tracking the implementation of the SADC Gender Protocol targets.


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