President Peter Mutharika has hit back after Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) criticised him for appointing three women in his 20-member cabinet.
Speaking at a University of Malawi (UNIMA) graduation in Lilongwe this morning, Mutharika there are few female leaders in CSOs and “may be only one” female chief executive officer (CEO) in the private sector.
He added that the responsibility to empower women does not lie with government alone.
“Those people who attack the government for not appointing women, you go to their institutions there are no women. We have to change our mindset.
“I know there are many Malawians who appreciate that we are building an inclusive society but it is a process,” Mutharika said.
The Malawi leader then defended his women empowerment record saying he has appointed women into various positions.
He mentioned the appointment of two female judges, Solicitor General, CEOs of parastatals, ambassadors and Secretary General of the DPP.
Mutharika’s new cabinet announced last week has three female ministers – Jean Kalirani at Lands, Housing and Urban Development; Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Cecilia Chazama and Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Grace Chiumia.
This angered activists under the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) who demanded the immediate removal of Mutharika as HeforShe Champion.
In a letter addressed to the UN headquarters in New York, the activists – Timothy Mtambo, Beatrice Mateyo, Billy Mayaya and Gift Trapence – say they expected Mutharika to be at the forefront of gender equality in Malawi and to serve as a public champion for change.
On Monday, Women Lawyers Association also petitioned Mutharika demanding him to increase the number of women in his cabinet
According to the lawyers, the number of female ministers matters since cabinet is an important organ of government where decisions affecting the nation are made.