Political parties contesting in next year’s tripartite elections have said the elections offer a great opportunity for the advancement of the 50-50 agenda of women empowerment in decision making positions.
The parties have made the observations as they are preparing for primary elections in readiness of next year’s tripartite elections.
Speaking in separate interviews with MEC, representatives of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the newly launched United Transformation Movement (UTM) emphasised the need for levelling the playing field between female and male aspirants in the parties’ primaries.
Responding to a WhatsApp questionnaire on Saturday, MCP Publicity Secretary Reverend Maurice Munthali said the Malawi Congress Party values the significant role women play in the overall development agenda of the country and was geared at unleashing their acquired and inherited leadership potential.
“The Malawi Congress Party has deliberately opened up opportunities for women to assume positions of influence in the government set-up, private sector as well as in parliament. Women are drivers of change and that is why the MCP will create both the space and platforms for women to showcase their ability to boost the national economy at all levels alongside their male counterparts,” said Munthali.
He said the party has given preferential consideration to women by placing them in key positions and as the party was going towards its primary elections scheduled for August, it had resolved to reduce the nomination fees for all female aspiring candidates contesting at the primaries.
“The MCP has put deliberate policies to give room for women to play their rightful role in the overall national development agenda. As we are heading for primary elections next month where people will be expressing their interest to contest for the party at Local Government and National Assembly levels, the party has resolved that women should pay less nomination fees as compared to their male counterparts. For instance, women aspiring to contesting on the parliamentary race at the primaries will pay K40,000 as opposed to the K50,000 to be paid by male aspirants,” said Munthali.
He said the party made the resolution to encourage many women to join the parliamentary and local government race in next year’s tripartite elections.
And speaking in a phone interview with MEC on Saturday, Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi who is also the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) publicist said that the DPP which is also scheduled to hold its primary elections next month recognised the important role that women play in the socioeconomic development of the country and is geared at ensuring that women are given a level playing field in the party primaries.
“The DPP respects the role women play in the socioeconomic affairs of the country and this can be evidenced from the fact that we are the only party in the country to have fielded a female running mate at presidential elections in the history of the country,” said Dausi.
On its part, the newly launched United Transformation Movement (UTM), a breakaway faction of the ruling DPP, said it has received overwhelming response from women aspiring to contest for the party at both local and parliamentary levels in next year’s tripartite elections.
UTMs Secretary General, Patricia Kaliati told MEC in an interview on Sunday the party has received a lot of women aspiring candidates despite going to elections for the first time.
“Many women have expressed interest to contest in next year’s tripartite elections on a UTM ticket and although it would be too early to say that we are going to field more women candidates as we are soon going to hold primary elections which will decide who contests for the party in the tripartite elections, we are very optimistic that many of the aspiring women candidates will make it past the primaries,” said Kaliati.
According to Steve Duwa, Executive Director of the Pan-African Civic Educators Network (PACENET) which is implementing the increased women participation in politics project, women in the country continue to be underrepresented in elected political positions because of the social cultural attitudes that undermine women participation in influential positions. He however said people have now started understanding the importance of electing women in positions of influence.
Over the past few years the country has registered a decline in numbers of women elected into the local and national assemblies. In the last elections, only 17 percent of women made it into the National Assembly in spite of the country being party to a number of regional and international treaties aimed at promoting women participation in elected positions.
Meanwhile, Civil Society Organisations have intensified the 50-50 advocacy for women participation in elected political positions. The advocacy is being headed by the 50-50 management agency which has since established an incubator that seeks to equip women aspiring candidates with campaign skills.