A local non-governmental organisation has threatened to push for the arrest of government human resource officers who do not ensure that at least 40 percent of their employees are women.
NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) executive director at Emma Kaliya issued the threat on Tuesday at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe during a dissemination meeting organised to review the Public Service Act and the Malawi Public Service Regulations.
She said since the Gender Act became operational in April 2014, there is still discrimination as the number of women employees in government ministries, departments and agencies is still low.
Kaliya said it is sad that the employing officers have been sidelining women with impunity.
“This is hypocrisy. Time has now come to take action to bring those in charge accountable for not complying with the new Gender Act. Section 11 of the Act provides for gender quotas by requiring no less than 40 percent and no more than 60 percent of either sex in any department in the public service,” she said.
In her remarks, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) principal gender and women’s rights officer Grace Mtawali said gender is a human rights issue and, therefore, should be respected.
She said MHRC is mandated to enforce the Act.
“There are provisions in the Gender Act where Sections 12 and 13 call for greater accountability and transparency measures in implementation of the quotas provided under Section 11.
“The sections allow for people to have opportunity to view interview records and take recruiting and appointing authorities to court where there is non-compliance of Section 11. The court can issue a compliance order which if not complied with will attract a fine of K20 000 for each day that the order is not complied with,” Mtawali said.
She said it is imperative to align the provisions of the Public Service Act and the Malawi Public Service Regulations on recruitment and appointment with the Gender Act, especially Section 11of the Act.
Civil Service Commission deputy chairperson Elias Ngongonda, who also spoke on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission, said government employees are not ignoring the Gender Act. He said the law has to be incorporated in the Malawi Public Service Regulations and the Public Service Act.
“It is wrong to say that employing government officers have ignoring the provision of the Gender Act, but the truth is that the Act is yet to be incorporated in the Public Service Act and also Malawi Public Service Regulations.
“This piece of legislation has to be consented to or approved by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs before government departments or agencies can start implementing them. Currently, the process of incorporating is with the Ministry of Justice and, once they are done, government employing officers can start applying them,” said Ngongonda.