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Women Political Leadership Gets a Nod

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Mihowa. Mihowa. - Pic by Tione Andsen

Lilongwe, May 27, Mana: Malawians have growing confidence in women's political leadership following the announcement of the results by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Saturday, May 25, 2019.

It is a clear indication that a 37.5 percentage increase of female parliamentarians has demonstrated that electorates have belief in women participation in political and decision making processes.

According to MEC, 44 women have been elected to represent their constituents in the 193-member national assembly from now until 2024.

Of the 44 MP elected, 13 retained their seats, 31 are new entrants while five have bounced back into parliament after they failed to make it in the 2014 tripartite elections.

“The results show that Malawi is making steady strides towards gender parity in political representation,” Oxfam Malawi Country Director, Lingalireni Mihowa said this in a statement issued on Monday in Lilongwe.

She pointed out that, “This is the highest number that Malawi has ever recorded following 2009 parliament when we had 43 female parliamentarians, a record that slumped to 32 in the 2014 parliament”.

Mihowa added that of interest during this year’s Tripartite Elections is the increased number of women MPs that have managed to retain their seats unlike in the past elections where less than five female MPs would retain their seats for two or more consecutive terms, this year has seen 13 out of the 32 hold on to their seats.

“The retention increase shows that efforts for retention campaign in the runner-up to the elections by Oxfam and other actors have yielded results,” the country director noted.

She said overall, all stakeholders that took part in the 50-50 Campaign need to be commended for the job well done.

Mihowa explained that the five female MPs that have been voted back into parliament and possibly the youngest female parliamentarian elected from Machinga South East is yet another proof that more Malawians are believing in women political leadership now.

However, issues emerging from women politicians that contested in this election show that the playing field was not levelled.

She said that this challenges us all as a nation that we should have done more to level the field. A significant number of women were subjected to various discriminatory attitudes and practices in their political parties during the party conventions, primary elections, campaign period constituting Violence against Women in Elections (VAWE).

She said that “We have received numerous reports of male contestants who distributed money to voters on the eve of the polling day and on voting day. These unacceptable and unlawful practices disadvantaged many capable women from winning.”

Mihowa noted that Oxfam celebrates all the women that participated in this election regardless of outcome.

“We congratulate the 44 women that have triumphed in this parliamentary election and we hope for huge leaps in the results of the local government election results. Oxfam pledges its post-elections support to the Women’s Caucuses of Parliament and Councilors and join hands with other 50:50 campaigners to deepen our further engagement with political parties,” she said.

Oxfam has confirmed, political parties remain the biggest enablers or blockers to women's participation in politics.

“We believe, there are opportunities to undertake electoral law reforms to accelerate women's political representation in the country. We will continue build coalitions and engage communities on positive narratives, images and perceptions of women's political participation and leadership in the country. We look forward to the entrenchment of women's political participation and representation as a key indicator of a maturing and inclusive democracy,” Mihowa pointed out.

(By Tione Andsen/MANA)

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