Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has told civil society organisations (CSOs) to nominate equal number of male and female potential commissioners when they are asked to submit nominees. MHRC chairperson Justin Dzonzi said this on Tuesday in Lilongwe during a sensitisation meeting on Gender Equality Act (2013) and the role of CSOs on nominating commissioners for oversight organisations such as MHRC.
Dzonzi said: “It is not good to always blame the government when it appoints more men than women in MHRC. Usually, the problem is with CSOs. Every CSO is asked to submit two nominees. Unfortunately, many of them do not submit while others just submit one.” He said 102 CSOs were asked to submit names for MHRC commissioners, but only 31 responded.
“The 31 CSOs submitted 29 nominees of which only eight were women. Out of eight, two were disqualified and one female commissioner was appointed,” he said.
MHRC has nine commissioners; six men and three women. The number of female commissioners
reached three because the two permanent commissioners, namely the Ombudsman and the Law Commissioner are females. Dzonzi said if each CSO nominates one male and one female commissioner, it will
increase chances of achieving gender equality at the commission.
Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC) capacity development manager Mercy Makhambera said the advert that MHRC releases calling on CSOs to submit nominees should spell out clearly that each CSO’s submitted names should be a male and a female.
“If MHRC is clear on that, the CSOs will adhere to that and we will achieve the desired ratio,” she said.
The meeting was organised by Nkhoma Synod’s development wing, Church and Society, with funding from Tilitonse Fund.
Nkhoma Synod’s advocacy officer Dr Phoebe Chifungo said her organisation will continue bringing together different stakeholders so that they are enlightened on GEA.
“We believe these platforms will enlighten stakeholders on issues of recruitment and appointments. Soon, we will meet Parliament’s
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to enlighten them on the importance of adhering to GEA,” she said.