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Women empowerment for lasting peace, prosperity

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By Elson Mankhomwa:

An article by Pemphero Malimba aptly titled ‘Parties faulted on female aspirants’ performance’ in The Daily Times of June 25 2019, (on page 27) is an eye-opener on some of the vices and impediments against the 50:50 campaign for women participation in public affairs in particular and national development in general.

According to that article, some stakeholders in Dedza District faulted political parties for openly causing the poor performance of women aspirants during the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections. There are serious allegations that many primary elections were marred by acts of violence and lacked credibility in terms of results.

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Women contestants on party and independent tickets got affected because their male counterparts were harshly de-campaigning them during the run-up to the elections, said the article. A lot of women had initially shown interest, during primary elections, in standing as members of Parliament and councillors in all eight constituencies of the district but, after observing the rough treatment and the way the primaries were being conducted, many lost interest and abandoned the race.

As a result, Dedza District renowned for having produced such illustrious and capable female legislators as the late Kate Kainja, Margaret Maimba and Juliana Lunguzi, among many others, has lost that chance for female representation, having been deprived of fair competition during the primary elections. And that speaks volumes of violence within political parties.

According to the article, district party officials for Malawi Congress Party and UTM conceded to the allegations levelled against their parties and promised that there would be improvements ahead of the 2024 elections.

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Concession to mistakes is not a weakness as others may think. In fact, it is a sign of strength because it shows willingness to change for the better. There is always tomorrow to make things better. Mistakes are not always entirely negative and bad. Mistakes of today provide a learning platform for negotiating a better tomorrow and a brighter future.

It is both advisable and necessary that leaders in politics, religious bodies and civil society preach and practice caution and moderation in both speech and actions because, while everybody looks up to the leaders for guidance and direction, everybody needs peace. And everybody needs continued development in one way or another.

All political parties need to advocate peace and calm, law and order. The admission by some political party officials in Dedza District, that violent incidents indeed occurred between supporters of opposing candidates during primary elections, is saddening but, nevertheless, commendable —considering that we have observed how holier-than-thou attitudes and pride make such concessions to become very rare.

On the other hand, the spirit to admit to mistakes is highly commendable. The heart to admit to mistakes is the first most important step towards true reformation and a genuine gesture for reconciliation and continued national progress.

While we have our differences in opinion or political affiliation, the bottom line remains that we are all Malawians and have one purpose—to develop Mother Malawi.

One can ably serve Malawi in many other aspects other than through political positions as others may think. Anyone that thinks they have the ability to perform as a politician can also ably function in another field.

Intimidating women to the extent of getting only two out of 16 female aspirants for councillor is not good at all. And no female legislator emerged out of the 14 that contested in Dedza District.

Women are usually sympathetic and generally caring. It has been said, over and over, that educating a woman is educating a nation. The same applies to empowerment of women in many fields including politics.

Under no circumstances should positions of influence or leadership in any field be a cause for violence since that would be archaic and barbaric and in this modern world completely out of order.

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