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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs