Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in women empowerment on Thursday waited for over four hours to meet Parliamentary Women Caucus to discuss how they could work together to ensure more women representation in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The NGOs, Women Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec), Hivos and Concern Worldwide, were scheduled to meet the caucus at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre from 2.30pm but the legislators only showed up at around 6.30pm.
Journalists, who had been invited to cover the function, left the venue after they lost hope that the legislators would show up.
According to inside sources, the lawmakers apologised on arrival for the delay, saying they took time in Chiradzulu where they were touring some of the constituencies represented by fellow women.
Speaking to journalists before their departure, Wolrec executive director Maggie Kathewera-Banda said they had a number of pertinent issues to discuss with the caucus.
She said: “There are three major issues that we planned to discuss with the women caucus. We wanted to showcase our work as Worlec, discuss how we can retain women representation in Parliament and also issues of gender-based violence [GBV] in schools.”
Hivos regional programmes development manager Nicola Ndovi said her organisation is working with women parliamentarians to increase support for women and mentor women to meaningfully participate in politics.
Said Ndovi: “Of the three countries we are supporting Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, the latter is fairing badly. We have seen a decrease in women representation in the last election but we are positive that through these initiatives, we can increase the numbers.”
Concern Worldwide programmes manager Daniel Msiska highlighted GBV in schools as one of the challenges hindering girls’ education in the country.
“Women parliamentarians are key to the welfare of girls as they are policy makers, they were once girls and understand challenges girls go through. We wanted to discuss these issues with them so that they help us resolve these challenges,” he said.
Women Caucus chairperson Jessie Kabwira is reported to have apologised to the NGOs for inconveniences caused by their delay.