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Electoral body says Malawi politics biased towards men

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THE Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has described Malawi’s political landscape as still biased towards men 51 years after independence.

Mec Commissioner, Elvey Kalonga Mtafu, said this on Tuesday at the start of a Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections (Bridge) course on gender and elections for Mec staff, political parties and civil society organisations in Blantyre.

She said the playing field in the country’s politics has “never been level”. Mtafu said men continue to dominate the field as a result of prevailing traditional perceptions on the role of women in the social and political spheres.

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“Though women do vigorously participate in the political process, including mobilising, registering, campaigning and voting. They do so on behalf of male candidates in the larger part,” she said.

She also said various stakeholders have not done well in coming up with deliberate strategies to ensure women attain high political positions.

Mtafu has since acknowledged that the 25 percent discount on nomination fees for female candidates aimed at encouraging their participation in Parliamentary and Local government elections during the 2014 tripartite polls did have any impact.

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There has been a drop in women representation in Parliament from 43 in 2009 to 30 in 2014.

The observation comes five days after the commission released results of the local government by elections which saw a reduction of women participating as only eight of the 29 contestants were women.

“As a Commission, we are yet to appreciate the impact of this gesture as we have of late been witnessing a worrisome trend in as far as the number of women being elected into political offices is concerned,” said Mtafu.

UN Women Programme Officer for Governance, Anne Tressa, described the low representation of women in electoral positions as a global problem.

“This problem is not limited to Malawi alone but there is real need for electoral reforms if the country is to perform well in women empowerment,” she said.

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