Youth and Society Organization (YAS) and Pan-African Civic Educators Network (PACENET) have reiterated the need for people in the country to change their perceptions and cultural beliefs that regard female politicians as underachievers.
The organisations said this is stifling efforts to ensure equal representation of men and women in the country, broadly known as the 50:50 campaign.
The two organizations with finances from UN Women are jointly implementing a project called Enhancing Women Participation in Democratic Governance in Malawi (EWPDGM) that seeks to strengthen womens political empowerment through the electoral cycle in the districts of Mzimba, Karonga, Salima, Dedza, Mulanje and Mangochi.
Speaking in an interview after briefing the project to the Mzimba Gender technical working group committee on Monday, PACENET assistant project coordinator Pearson Malinda said Malawians should stop viewing women as failures but should give them a chance to run a public office.
Malinda said: In 2017 we conducted a baseline survey that revealed that as a country we have few women vying for political positions mainly because most Malawians view women as lacking good leadership skills to run a public office, and political parties not creating a conducive environment for women to penetrate into their political structures.
So this project is there to transform people and to change these negative perceptions towards women mainly by civic educating the rural masses on the need to have women in the elected positions. We are also going to work hand in hand with the political parties to give more space to women to penetrate in their cycles.
Gender and Human Rights officer at Youth and Society (YAS) Mwandida Theu said the campaign to have more women in elected positions makes sense as currently women are already underrepresented in the councils and in Parliament in as far as decision making is concerned.
Basically we are saying, out of 193 members of Parliament only 32 are women, and out of 463 ward councilors in the councils only 52 are women.
This shows that we are still lagging behind, hence the call for people to support women in the coming 2019 tripartite elections to increase their number in these elected positions, said Theu
Mzimba District Gender officer Japhet Chirwa in an interview said the 50:50 campaign is achievable only if women are supported at all levels, and he called on upon all Malawians, the chiefs and political parties to support women by viewing them as productive citizens and not domestic workers.
In Mzimba district, out of 22 ward councilors, only two are women and out of 11 parliamentarians, only 3 are women.
The project among others has a goal of enhancing the capacity of 120 aspiring women candidates in the targeted districts to conduct competitive, development driven and innovative campaign, and establish measures to monitor and mitigate incidents of political harassments and violence against women in politics.