The final list of parliamentary candidates that Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) released on Saturday shows that 44 women have made it in the 2019-2024 parliamentary term, a rise from 32 in the last Parliament.
Among the new women members of Parliament (MPs) is Fyness Magonjwa of Machinga South East Constituency (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP), who is touted as the youngest parliamentarian in this cohort.
Announcing the results at the MEC main tally centre at Comesa Hall in Blantyre, MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah said elections did not take place in one constituency due to the death of one candidate, Agnes Penemulungu.
She said: “The commission will today release results for all 192 constituencies where elections took place. In one constituency, Lilongwe South, elections never took place because of the death of one of the candidates.”
While the female representation in Parliament has increased, 22 percent is still a far cry from the equal representation that gender activists have been advocating for the 193-member House.
The Joint Domestic Gender Delegation Team, which was deployed to observe women’s political participation in the electoral processes, has since stated that the battle is far from over.
In a statement issued on Friday, the team says it will continue to remind political leaders that Malawi will not attain sustainable development if women are left out of political decision-making positions.
It reads in part: “We lobby for a gender balanced Cabinet, board membership and all public appointments as per the gender equality aspirations firmly entrenched in the country’s laws, including in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and Gender Equality Act. This is in line with the Government of Malawi’s obligations under both national and international laws.”
Earlier, the Non-Governmental Organisation Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) said it was encouraging that an increased number of women have fared well in the local government elections.
In a statement issued last week and co-signed by NGO-GCN chairperson Barbara Banda and national coordinator Innocent Hauya, the organisation says it was clear from reports that female representation in local governance and Parliament will be increased compared to the 2014 performance.
“This agrees with our earlier analysis which indicated a likely 5-10 percent increase in female representation in the new National Assembly,” reads the statement in part.
It was not yet officially known how many women have won local government seats.
According MEC, 305 women contested for parliamentary positions in this year’s elections, up from 268 in 2014.
The number of women in Parliament has been fluctuating over the years, with only 30 winning the May 2014 Tripartite Elections, down from 43 in 2009.
Low representation of women in politics contravenes the country’s Gender Equality Act which prescribes that one gender should take no more than 60 percent of public leadership positions.
The Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development also stipulates a 50:50 ratio. n