BY EMMIE BANDA,
About 30 women in Mchinji District have shown interest to contest for local government seats during next year’s tripartite elections.
According to Gender, Governance, Justice and Development Centre (GGJDC) Coordinator, Gervazio Zulu, the interest comes as a result of lobbying for women participation in politics at district and regional level.
Zulu said under the organisation’s Women Empowered for Leadership (WE4L) programme, many women are beginning to believe in their ability to win seats during the May 21 polls.
“In the last quarter of the WE4L programme, we met governors from different political parties and asked them to give women the chance to contest. As it stands now, not less than 30 women have already shown interest to contest. The governors have also given us the assurance that more women will throw their hats into the ring and vie for political office. And all things being equal, we expect to have 50 women contesting as councillors in Mchinji,” Zulu said.
GGJDC also met incumbent councillors in the district, asking them to take part in lobbying for women participation during the elections.
Zulu said it was pleasing to note that the councillors understood the importance of supporting the women in their quest to increase their participation in decision-making processes.
“Some of the councillors were reluctant to offer their support when they heard our message, with others just accepting to open doors for the women to join the contest. But two offered not to contest again in their respective wards to pave way for the female aspirants,” he said.
Zulu said the two, Lymon Sakala from Chimimbe Ward and Stanley Banda of Kalumbe Ward, signed an agreement with GGJDC that they would not change their decision.
He said GGJDC also identified mentors and role models from other government sectors, civil society organisations and political parties to mentor the aspirants on how they can conduct campaign rallies and mobilise campaign materials.
“It is also important for women to have self-esteem as they go about garnering support ahead of the elections. Women seem to lack self-esteem in such matters and at times, you tend to wonder if at all they do not love each another.
“If women supported each other, it would be very easy for them to win because, according to statistics, Malawi’s population is dominated by women. The country has more women than men but the women do not believe in voting for a fellow woman. This is why we are working hard to change status quo,” Zulu concluded.
GGJDC is working in Mchinji, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe and Kasungu where participation of women in politics is low.
Lilongwe has 61 wards with just eight female councillors while Kasungu has only five councillors out of 27 wards.
Mchinji and Nkhotakota have 12 and 10 wards respectively without any female councillor.
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