The Women’s Caucus of Malawi’s Parliament has appealed to the Women and Law in Southern Africa Trust (Wlsa-Malawi) to arm them with key messages on gender-related laws to ably share the same in their constituencies.
Wlsa Malawi has partnered the caucus, with financial assistance from United Nations (UN) Women, to popularise the Gender Equality Act, Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act (Marriage law) and Trafficking in Persons Act.
Women’s Caucus chairperson Jessie Kabwila said much as Parliament had passed the laws, there was need to put the content into simpler language that could be understood by their constituents.
She said: “It is important to arm the women MPs [members of Parliament] with key messages on these gender laws so that they own them and not be strangers when we go back to our people. What we have done so far could backfire and we can end up decampaigning ourselves in the process.”
The most contentious law is the Marriage Act which some sectors have described as a feminist law because of issues of age of marriage and distribution of matrimonial property.
Wlsa Malawi national coordinator Mzati Mbeko confirmed that the MPs will be responsible for disseminating the content of the relatively new laws to their constituents.
He said: “The purpose is to popularise the laws but also raise the women MPs visibility in their constituents. It is the wish of WLSA and UN Women to increase the number of women MPs in the next election but also retention. Retention requires continuous capacity building.”
Mbeko said it was important to stress that the Marriage Act was not new but it was a combination of separate laws which existed on marriage, maintenance of children and spouses
UN Women country representative Clara Nyangwe said dissemination of the laws by the women MPs offered them the chance to popularise gender related laws but also increase access to justice for women and girls in their constituencies.
Meanwhile, National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust has launched a calendar featuring the women MPs as one way of enhancing the promotion of women in politics.
The calendar features the women posing at Parliament building but also carrying out various community projects in their constituencies. nThere are 32 women MPs in Parliament, but this is below the 50 percent representation that Malawi signed to achieve by 2015.