News / Africa

Malawi 50-50 Campaign Hits a Snag

FILE - Newly elected Malawian president Peter Mutharika signs the oath book after he was sworn in, at the High Court in Blantyre, Malawi, May 31, 2014.
FILE - Newly elected Malawian president Peter Mutharika signs the oath book after he was sworn in, at the High Court in Blantyre, Malawi, May 31, 2014.
Lameck Masina

The push for equal gender representation - known as 50-50 campaign - gained momentum in Malawi's recent election campaign, but did not produce the expected results. The May 20 election actually saw a significant drop in the number of women elected, with only 32 seats in parliament going to women as opposed to 43 in 2009.  The stats are worse in local races. Malawi ranks among the countries with the lowest female representation. 

Poor performance, 50-50 campaign

Gender activists say the poor performance of women candidates in the May elections was shocking, and they have not yet determined the cause.

“I don’t think we have been able to establish the real reasons why women have performed dismally during the elections," said Emma Kaliya, national coordinator for the NGO Gender Coordinating Network, which championed the campaign.  "Basically what I can say is that all what is supposed to be done was done. And therefore we did not expect the numbers that we got eventually.”

Throughout the campaign, her organization was providing financial, material and moral support to all the women candidates, regardless of political party affiliation.  In addition, the more than 250 women candidates for parliament and 2,000 women campaigning for councilor were trained in public-speaking techniques and skills on how to attract voters.

But this did not work to the expectations of the campaigners.

Gender equality

Kaliya said changes are needed in the Malawi electoral system. She said the country should have a proportional representation in which each party presents its list of candidates and receives seats in proportion to its overall share of the national vote.

Kaliya said African countries like South Africa, Mozambique and Uganda use a proportional representation system that has helped increase the number of women in decision-making positions.

The chairperson of the Women's Caucus in Malawi's parliament, Jessie Kabwila, said she believes the way Malawi's President Joyce Banda performed in office may have influenced some voters not to vote for any women candidate.

“The fact that we had a woman president who became synonymous with Cashgate [a corruption scandal in which more than $30 million of public funds were looted from government coffers], and lots of government failures impacted highly on the standing as a woman in this election,” said Kabwila.

Banda was highly criticized for allowing the scandal to happen under her administration. The scandal prompted major donors to suspend their financial support to the country.

But Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Shawa, blames the dismal performance of women during the polls on the patriarchal nature of Malawi society, which she said looks down upon women.

“Most people who vote people into power are those in the village. Within their cultures there are aspects that they believe in, so if in my culture they believe the woman cannot be my boss, I will not vote for a woman," she said. "It’s not a question of the ministry doing something about it’s about every Malawian how do they view and look a women. It’s an ordinary chief in the village how does he view and look at a woman.”

She said the fight for equal representation of men and women in decision-making positions will not be won unless society changes its perceptions toward women.

Meanwhile, the gender activists in Malawi are expected to hold a conference in August to discuss what went wrong for women in the elections. The delegates also are expected to plot strategy for the country’s 2019 elections.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More