News / Africa

Malawi Women Intensify Fight for Equal Space in Public Office

Malawi president Joyce Banda waves to the crowd gathered in Lilongwe for the official launch of her electoral presidential campaign, March 29, 2014 in Lilongwe. Malawi president Joyce Banda waves to the crowd gathered in Lilongwe for the official launch of her electoral presidential campaign, March 29, 2014 in Lilongwe.
x
Malawi president Joyce Banda waves to the crowd gathered in Lilongwe for the official launch of her electoral presidential campaign, March 29, 2014 in Lilongwe.
Malawi president Joyce Banda waves to the crowd gathered in Lilongwe for the official launch of her electoral presidential campaign, March 29, 2014 in Lilongwe.
Lameck Masina
Women rights campaigners have intensified their 50/50 drive to have equal representation in the May 20 elections. Malawi ranks as one of the countries with low female representation not only in southern Africa, but globally. At the moment, only 22 percent of 193 parliamentary seats are held by women.

Gender activists hope that May’s tripartite elections will boost the number of women holding public office - both locally and nationally.
 
Their campaign on billboards, radio and television aims to woo voters to support many of the more than 2,000 women vying to be lawmakers and local councillors.
 
“About 52 percent of Malawi’s population is women," said Emmie Chanika, the chairperson for the permanent committee of the NGO Gender Coordinating Network. "And what we are talking about is that women should not just be used for dancing and for reproduction, but they should also use their intellect and whatever knowledge God can give them. In Malawi most of the farming is done by women. Why should we leave them out in leadership?”
 
The organization is providing financial, material and moral support to all women candidate regardless of political party affiliation.  
 
Getting help

Chanika says aspiring MPs are given about $500 each; while aspiring councilors get about half that amount as capital for their campaign meetings. In addition, women have received training in public speaking.
 
Activists have also formed a media task force - comprising editors and journalists from various local news organizations - to help them raise profiles of female candidates.
 
“So far we have done profiles for those women, and we have interacted with the women candidates on what issues they want to put forward as they do their campaign, as well as giving them space in the media houses so that they should be known to the electorate,” explained Wezzie Nyirongo, the editor at Capital Radio who serves as a vice chairperson for the media task force.

Nyirongo said in past elections, male candidates dominated media coverage due to the fact they had the money and means to finance a campaign.
 
Despite these efforts, some female candidates say they are not benefiting and describe the 50/50 drive as more theoretical than practical.
 
More money needed
Aspiring parliamentarian Aisha Mambo (center) is greeted by one of her supporters at a rally in her Mangochi-Nkungulu district, Malawi, April 18, 2104. (Lameck Masina for VOA)Aspiring parliamentarian Aisha Mambo (center) is greeted by one of her supporters at a rally in her Mangochi-Nkungulu district, Malawi, April 18, 2104. (Lameck Masina for VOA)
x
Aspiring parliamentarian Aisha Mambo (center) is greeted by one of her supporters at a rally in her Mangochi-Nkungulu district, Malawi, April 18, 2104. (Lameck Masina for VOA)
Aspiring parliamentarian Aisha Mambo (center) is greeted by one of her supporters at a rally in her Mangochi-Nkungulu district, Malawi, April 18, 2104. (Lameck Masina for VOA)
Aisha Mambo, the aspiring parliamentarian for the opposition United Democratic Front in the Mangochi-Nkungulu constituency, told VOA that while she appreciates the strides the campaigning is making through radio advertisements, the assistance given is too little to help women to win.
 
“In fact, I expected to get more financial support from them but as I am talking to you, what I got from them is only 200, 000 [Malawi] Kwacha [$500] which is even not enough for one campaign rally. And I also expected to get material support from them. But what we have heard is that they may give us 50 T-shirts which is not even enough," said Mambo.
 
An aspiring councilor in Blantyre, who opted for anonymity for “fear of reprisals,” said the 50/50 campaign is spending too much money on media to make ads and jingles to promote women in general.  She argues the money would be better spent financing individual campaigns.
 
Emmie Chanika defends the Gender Coordinating Network’s efforts, noting  the assistance given only aims to compliment what the candidates had budgeted for and not necessarily to fully bankroll their campaign.
 
Not enough women candidates

The Sunday Times social commentator, George Kasawala, has written in his column that he doubts this 50/50 drive will yield the desired results in the May polls.  He said there are only 257 women out of a total of 1,292 candidates vying for the 193 parliamentary seats.  He also noted that 44 constituencies have no women running at all.
 
He suggested that Malawi should have taken a page from Rwanda’s book - which legislated affirmative action by reserving 30 percent of seats in parliament for women.  Women now hold half the legislative seats in the lower house in Rwanda - making the small African nation number one in the world when it comes to the number of female lawmakers.
 
Malawi’s President Joyce Banda - who is running in the May 20 vote - is one of only three African women to hold the highest office.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid