Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders implementing the 50:50 campaign projects aimed at ensuring that women get more seats in the upcoming elections in Chikwawa and Nsanje have cited cultural values as one of the factors that have been preventing women to take up leadership positions in the district.
Executive Director for Youth Coalition for the Consolidation of Democracy (YCD), Francis Folly, whose organisation is implementing 50:50 campaign said in an interview that the two Lower Shire districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa share patrilineal cultural norms which encourage women to be subordinate to men and discourages them from aspiring leadership positions.
Folly said: “In Chikwawa and Nsanje districts women have been considered as being inferior to men and have not been allowed to be on top of men and as a result only few women have risen to become MPs in these two districts since the dawn of multiparty Democracy.”
Folly’s YCD with funding from Royal Norwegian Embassy through 50:50 Management Agency is sensitising local chiefs and religious leaders to civic educate their subjects that women can equally make good leaders.
According to Folly, they are encouraging local leaders to discourage male candidates from using violent language against women.
However, Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa could not be drawn to comment on how cultural beliefs are preventing women in the district to aspire leadership positions.
Currently, there is no single female Member of Parliament and ward councillor in Chikwawa District which has 6 constituencies and 12 wards.