By Duncan Mlanjira
Women Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC) is demanding that the next Head of State that would be voted in after Tuesday’s fresh presidential election should implement to the book that there is equal representation of women in the cabinet as well as other national positions of influence.
Executive Director Maggie Kathewera Banda said this on the eve of the poll, saying this is not a request but a demand as this is contained in the Gender Equality Act.
“We demand that the next president, whether it be Lazarus Chakwera or Peter Mutharika should be responsive to women issues as contained in the Gender Equality Act that all appointments in the Cabinet and other positions of influence, such as board of directors in parastatals, are equal gender inclusive,” said Kathewera Banda in an interview.
“The Gender Equality Act says that in appointing all positions of influence, there must be not less than 40 percent and not more than 60 percent of either sex.
“We have very capable women out there who can lead this country better than some of the men that are appointed in the positions of influence.
“We have beautiful laws in Malawi but unfortunately our leaders choose to ignore them and we are demanding that the next president to be elected should make sure that our laws are put into practice without any prejudice.”
Formed in 2006, WOLREC offers legal, economic and social justice to women and girls and operates in 15 districts of the country.
On top of the 50/50 gender inclusion all appointments in the positions of influence, WOLREC is also demanding that the government must assure the nation that women are safe and that all gender-based cases that have not seen any conclusion of, must be reopened and investigated to bring to book all culprits.
Kathewera Banda gave an example of the women who were allegedly raped by police officers as well as the woman in Mangochi who was undressed simply for wearing a UTM Party regalia before the 2019 tripartite elections.
“We demand a leader who can condemn and bring to book any perpetrator of gender-based violence whether that culprit belongs to the president’s party.
“We need to end all gender-based violence and the nation expects the President to make sure everyone is safe from any form of abuse.”
She also demands that the next president should make sure that he should provide good public service in health, education, agriculture, portable water and other essential services.
“People who visit public hospitals most are women but the system is not favoring them at all and we demand that this sector must be revitalized.
“About 70 percent of the labour force in agriculture are women but they do not have access to modern farming methods.
“When women are empowered — when their lives are better and are part of the economic value chain — then the country can develop.
“Otherwise we shall continue sliding backwards in as far as women’s economic empowerment is concerned,” she said.
WOLREC offers a diverse range of services for women that include providing free legal services, capacity building in terms of providing loans and how to successfully carry out their various businesses.
It also does research on women advocacy in order to uphold and promote women rights and empowerment.
These issues are delivered to the remotest parts WOLREC operates in through radio programmes, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and will soon launch a quarterly newsletter.
It has offices in Blantyre, Zomba, Balaka, Salima, Lilongwe, Rumphi, Neno and Nsanje.