Chakwera sued over gender

...State House's dillydallying tactics irks activists

The administration of President Lazarus Chakwera is being dragged to court over the president’s continued disregard of gender equality as required by the law.

The Women’s Manifesto Movement has resolved to take legal action and file a case against Government for non-appointment of any woman in 10 Boards and less than 40% women in many Boards.

After Chakwera appointed boards for 67 parastatals last month, lawyers for the movement wrote the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), highlighting the illegalities on the board appointments.

The movement also conducted demonstrations against discrimination and for rule of law on 9th October.

The OPC has not formally responded to the letter but on 8th October the OPC called the movement’s lawyers requesting that they put on hold any legal action until they discuss the matter.

According a statement today signed by one of the leaders of the movement Maggie Kathewera Banda, despite several follow ups, the discussions have not materialised as the OPC has continuously been busy and has not made any formal communication on the matter either.

In the meantime, some of the recently appointed Boards have started meeting.

The Movement has also expressed concern over remarks by State House Press office and Minister of Information Gospel Kazako who have kept referring to laws that need alignment for clarity on the process for realising gender equality and public appointment of women.

Kathewera Banda

“The law on public appointments applies to both men and women. The Malawi Constitution entrenches the human rights’ principles of gender equality, equal participation and nondiscrimination, and the Gender Equality Act provides for the ratio of 40-60 of either sex in public appointments.

“Any alignment of law or the need for process, if required at all, which we doubt, would therefore affect appointment of both men and women, not women only as is being argued.

“The statements are unfortunate, lack legal merit and only reflect government’s reluctance to respect the law,” reads part of the statement.

The movement adds that it has resolved to take legal action as part of efforts to challenge continued breach of law.

The Women’s Manifesto Movement is also challenging decisions made by any Board that is non-compliant with the law in its composition.

According to the movement, it will also continue engaging with Government and other stakeholders, as appropriate, using all lawful means to defend the Constitutional principle of nondiscrimination and gender equality.

One of the participating organisations in the lawsuit, Social Justice Network, tweeted: “Gender Equality is a legal requirement. President Chakwera made a commitment to follow the Rule of Law. We command him to act and follow the law he swore to defend #RepresentationMatters #TakeItToTheStreetsMalawi #RespectRuleofLaw”

Another organisation, Young Feminist Network reminded Chakwera that he is the president because of the law he is breaking.

“@LAZARUSCHAKWERA Mr President, the law was one of the tools that made it possible for the fresh elections to happen! Now that women want you to comply with the law, all you have for us are excuses.  Mwinadi a Malawi sitichedwa kuyiwala! THIS is why we will #TakeItToTheStreets”

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