Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have resolved to take government to court after it defied a seven-day-ultimatum to reconstitute boards whose compositions do not comply with the Gender Equality Act (GEA 2013).
Section 11 (1) of the Act calls for a 60:40 representation of men and women in all public institutions, but of the 67 boards, only 11 have complied with this law.
Lawyer for the CSOs, Wesley Mwafulirwa said they are proceeding with the next course of action since government has decided not to act.
He said: “We are proceeding with the next course of action, which is filing with the courts. As we speak, we have not heard anything from government since writing them that letter. So this week, we are proceeding with a court action.”
Mwafulirwa is representing Non-Governmental Coordination Network (NGO-GCN), Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Youth and Society (YAS) and Women Lawyers Association (WLA).Organisations-Gender
In a letter dated September 27 2020 to Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi, the CSOs, through their lawyer, argued that the appointments violate both local and international legal instruments.
Reads the letter in part: “To understand the purpose of the Gender Equality Act, therefore, one has to understand that it was enacted to fulfill the State obligation of ‘….progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation’ that helps to achieve gender equality in all spheres of the Malawi society, including in public appointments.”
In a letter congratulating its members that were appointed into boards, MLS honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde also urged the Attorney General (AG) to advise the appointing authority to make the necessary changes.
“The Law Society notes, however, that of the 54 completely filled boards, only 11 (20.37%) comply with Section 11 of the Gender Equality Act and other Acts that specifically confirm the position in Section 11 of the GEA. That means appointments into 73.63 percent of these currently filled 54 statutory boards are non-compliant with an Act of Parliament.”
Parastatals that do not have female representation include Malawi Accountants Board, Roads Fund Administration, Escom, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority, Roads Authority, Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Admarc.