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State House defends board compositions

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State House has said President Lazarus Chakwera remains committed to uplifting women by appointing them into key decision making positions.

State House Director of Communications, Sean Kampondeni, made the remark in Lilongwe Tuesday during the traditional State House weekly briefings.

Responding to concerns that Chakwera did not include more women in the boards of directors announced last week, Kampondeni said it was too early to judge the President’s stance on the matter apparently because more women will be incorporated in the boards based on their positions in various organisations and government.

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“You will notice that in the 29 page list that had the boards, there were two types of boards. Others are regulated by pieces of legislations and those legislations require the representation of certain organisations. Many would have noted that some boards did not have names of persons. They just mentioned institutions without mentioning the names of individuals.

“Those institutions are yet to submit the names of those to represent them on the boards. There is no reason to doubt that those that will be chosen will be women. So it is premature to judge the President that he has not included more women in the boards. Until the time those individuals are chosen by the institutions, it is too early to judge the President,” Kampondeni said.

He also said there are some pieces of legislation in Malawi that do not speak to each other and that Chakwera is open to discussion on how the situation could be resolved.

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On Sunday, four non-governmental organisations, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Women Lawyers Association, Youth and Society and NGO Gender Coordination Network, gave government seven days to reconstitute all boards that do not have a balance between men and women in terms of representation.

The four organisations argue that a gender demographic analysis of the appointments revealed that representation of women in the boards falls short of meeting the legal and policy framework obtaining in Malawi.

Among others, the analysis revealed that of all the 67 boards, only seven have female chairpersons and that over five boards do not have any female member at all.

The organisations further argue that the status quo violates section 13 (1) of the Constitution as read with section 20 of the same Constitution and section 11 of the Gender Equality Act.

“Most importantly, the next appointments of the non-complying boards should comply with their specific enabling laws as well as the Constitution as read with the Gender Equality Act.

“Be advised that unless the non-compliant boards are reconstituted within seven days from the 27th of September, 2020, we have instructions to seek legal redress against the appointments. Our instructions include seeking interlocutory orders and costs for the action,” reads the notice.

During the briefing, Kampondeni also disclosed that Chakwera is expected to leave the country for a two-day state visit to Zimbabwe.

Kampondeni said during the visit, Chakwera will discuss with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Emerson Mnangagwa, how to strengthen the relations between the two countries.

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