Parliament angers civil society organisations


Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have said they are disappointed with Members of Parliament (MPs) for not supporting the proposal to have at least 28 female legislators at a time.
Last year, the Malawi Law Commission and other organizations made a recommendation for the need to reserve a constituency in each district where only women could compete for.
But this proposal was dealt a heavy blow after the just-ended meeting of Parliament dismissed the proposal which was in the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill.
In their deliberations, the MPs say that having 28 reserved seats for women only is against the principles of democracy, which calls for equal treatment of candidates.
Most of them argued against the idea which they described as “wheelchairing” women into Parliament.
But reacting to the development, Pan African Civic Education Network (Pacenet) Executive Director, Steve Duwa, the decision not to pass the bill has shown that Malawi is not ready to promote political interests of women.
He observed that, for a long time, women have been marginalised through political violence; hence, having the 28 reserved seats for females to compete could have raised the profile of the country in regards to the promotion of women’s interests.
“What Parliament has done is a clear indication that our country is not ready to accommodate women into the country’s development agenda,” Duwa said.
NGO Gender Coordinating Network Chairperson, Emma Kalia, appealed to the National Assembly to reintroduce the proposal and approve it in the next meeting of Parliament.
“With the 28 seats proposal, women could have had the opportunity to compete with each other,” she said.

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