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50:50 Campaign calls for more women support

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By Emmanuel Chirwa:

The 50:50 Campaign has said, despite unofficial results for May 21 Tripartite Elections indicating some improvements as compared to 2014 polls, women are still sidelined and underrepresented.

Action Aid Women Rights Theme Manager Chikumbutso Ngosi Kaferankhande made the remarks during a press briefing held at Mount Soche in Blantyre yesterday on the organisation’s observation on electoral processes.

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Kaferankhande said, according to the observation by the campaign, 43 women have received majority votes in the parliamentary elections.

She said this is a 31 percent rise as compared to 2014, where the figure was 32.

On local government election results, the data which is still being collected indicates the 2014 baseline of 53 candidates has been beaten.

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However, the organisation has bemoaned commercialisation of politics where those who were financially able could contest.

“Most women did not have the resources to enable them to compete, therefore that created an unlevelled playing field. There were also issues of violence against women during campaign, primary elections, voting and tallying. All these impede women to effectively contest,” she said.

The campaign has called for review of the electoral and political acts.

It said Malawi should include number of women quotas in its legal clauses if the country is to achieve equal representation.

The organisation hailed Malawi Electoral Commission for administration of elections in a transparent manner that includes provision of subsidised nomination fees for women aspirants and provision of resources for the physically challenged during the polls.

Among the districts which have managed to have 50:50 representations are Balaka, Mchinji, Nsanje and Ntchisi.

Nsanje has managed to have 60 percent representation of women at parliamentary level.

Nkhotakota, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe and Zomba are between 30 and 40 percent while Chitipa, Mwanza, Neno, Karonga, Mzuzu City and Likoma remain male-dominated districts.

50:50 Campaign complaints have come just a day after international electoral observation mission’s concerns on the matter.

The European Union Electoral Observation Mission said women’s political participation remains low and women faced a number of obstacles during party primaries and the election campaign.

The mission’s Chief Observer Miroslav Poche said, despite the Constitution providing equality through full participation of women in all spheres of society on the basis of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, there are no enabling mechanisms established to increase women’s representation in Parliament, local councils or in the electoral process.

Poche said, for instance, 2018 Political Parties Act only stipulates that political parties should comply with the principle of gender equality in appointments “in so far as it is practicable” and to “endeavour to achieve fair gender representation” in candidate nominations but there is no obligation.

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