The 50:50 Campaign Management Agency has engaged the legal fraternity to provide legal support services to women aspiring for elected offices in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The agency said this on Friday in Mponela, Dowa during a Violence Against Women in Elections (Vawe) orientation and engagement with Malawi Law Society (MLS) pro-bono lawyers on legal support to female candidates.
The agency’s team leader Viwemi Chavula said the initiative seeks to draw attention to legal issues that affect women across different types of work, including aspirants, voters and electoral administrators.
He said: “It will be the genesis of knowing how to quickly respond to women legal support services, especially in the wake of political violence manifesting itself in different forms and dynamics be it family, community and political parties.”
Chavula said between December 2018 and January 2019, the agency received 30 complaints relating to primary elections disputes.
He said: “The main areas of concern relate to the administration of the primary elections where issues of verbal insults and derogatory songs, vandalism of property belonging to female aspirants, declaring a different winner from the one who won the primaries, among others.”
In her remarks, Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare principal gender and development officer Chimwemwe Kuseni said Malawi was still experiencing gender disparities despite having in place relevant policies to end violence against women.
She stressed that the meeting would help lawyers find ways of helping female candidates subjected to violence in politics. She said political violence was a major contributing factor to low representation of women in politics.
Said Kuseni: “This orientation will help protect women candidates from the violence they face.”
MLS honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde said the orientation had come at the right time as lawyers need to be fully equipped with knowledge for them to work perfectly on issues affecting women in politics.
She said: “As lawyers, we recognise the need for the orientation programme which will help most women participate in elections as we will now come in to help them when they face any form of violence.”
The partnership, which also includes judges, would help women contesting for different political offices to have representation in court whenever they need legal help for free. n