Political parties have snubbed women in the elections with many female parliamentary candidates standing as independents.
According to a gendered analysis of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) 2019 Presidential and Parliamentary statistics conducted by the NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN), at least 123 of the 304 women contesting for parliamentary office are independents.
The network has expressed worry that women who are standing as independents are at a disadvantage because voting trends have shown that people vote along party lines especially in areas where some parties dominate.
“Political party backing is the most significant factor for female candidates and the absence of such backing can disturb one’s chances of being elected into office. For instance, only three of the 23 constituencies in Lilongwe have a female a candidate on an MCP ticket, in Kasungu only one of the nine constituencies has a female candidate on MCP ticket, in Mzimba only two of the 12 constituencies have a female candidate standing on a MCP ticket while in Nsanje there is no woman standing for office under the MCP ticket.
“Out of the 33 constituencies in the Northern Region, only two have women standing on MCP ticket,” reads the analysis in part.
In Chitipa, Karonga, Nkhatabay, Likoma, Mzuzu, and Rumphi there are no female candidates standing on a MCP ticket while UTM and DPP have fielded an average of one female candidate in these districts.
The analysis shows that the People’s Party (PP) – which has a female presidential candidate – has the highest number of women standing on a party ticket with 30.8 percent of the female candidates.
The ruling DPP has 26.5 percent while there is 22.5 percent for UTM, and 15.3 percent for MCP.
According to NGO-GCN, this is an indication that having women as political party leaders can contribute to many women participating in politics and decision making.
The organisation however noted that most of the political parties did not take the necessary steps to ensure that their primaries were conducted in a free and fair manner hence many women lost the primaries.
Despite 44 out of the 193 constituencies not having a female parliamentary candidate, the number of female candidates in 2019 has increased to 304 from 261 in 2014.
NGO-GCN coordinator, Innocent Hauya, said the increased number of women candidates for presidential and parliamentary office in 2019 is a progressive result in achieving increased participation of women in politics and decision-making.