Non-Governmental Organisation Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) has expressed discontent with the low representation of women in decision-making positions at Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
NGO-GCN, which has observed that the low representation is at both management level and among commissioners, has since lobbied President Peter Mutharika and political parties to include more women when nominating new MEC commissioners.
Briefing journalists in Blantyre on Friday, NGO- GCN permanent committee chairperson Emmie Chanika said as the tenure of the current MEC commissioners expires, they would want to see more women being considered for the positions.
She said: “The current status does not reflect well on women representation. We thus call upon nominating stakeholders to nominate more women because we believe consultations between the President and political parties are in progress on the same.”
Chanika urged Mutharika to ensure that the appointment process of the incoming commissioners is in respect of Section 11 of the Gender Equality Act of 2013 which is in line with the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Cooperation (Sadc) obligations.
She said: “We, therefore, call upon the President and his Cabinet, political parties and MEC to commit toward fulfilling Section 11 of the Act. We don’t want to start dragging each other to court because the laws are flouted.”
Activist Unandi Banda, a member of NGO-GCN, asked Mutharika to consider rejecting names of nominees if the issue of gender equality is not taken into consideration.
“We are appealing to the President to protect the law because the current trend, if it remains unchecked, has the potential to scare away female candidates and defeat the real intentions of the 50-50 national campaign,” said Banda, who is also National Electoral Systems Trust (Nest) executive director.
Speaking at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe after meeting members of Public Affairs Committee (PAC)two weeks ago, Mutharika assured the nation that the new set of commissioners will be appointed before expiry of office for current officials.
Recently, Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) board chairperson Steve Duwa also asked the President and political parties involved in the nomination of MEC commissioners to incorporate people from diverse backgrounds.
The current MEC, whose commissioners’ terms of office expire on May 18 2016, has three women out of 10 members. MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera, who is also a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, will have his term expire in October 2016. n