Oxfam, one of the organisations that campaigned for women in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, has pledged support to the Women’s Caucus of Parliament and councillors beyond the elections period.
In a statement on Monday, Oxfam Malawi country director Lingalireni Mihowa, said the election of 44 women into Parliament is a clear indication that Malawians have growing confidence in women’s political leadership and that efforts by Oxfam and other actors have yielded results.
Of the 44 members of Parliament (MPs), 13 retained their seats, 26 are new entrants while five have bounced back after they failed to make it in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Said Mihowa: “The five female MPs that have been voted back into Parliament and possibly the youngest female parliamentarian elected from Machinga South East is yet another proof that more Malawians are believing in women political leadership now.
“However, issues emerging from women politicians that contested in this election show that the playing field was not levelled. This challenges us all as a nation that we should have done more to level the field.”
She has since pledged to join hands with other 50:50 campaigners to deepen further engagement with political parties, saying there are opportunities to undertake electoral law reforms to accelerate women’s political representation in Malawi.
However, she said a significant number of women were subjected to various forms of discrimination in their political parties during party conventions, primary elections and the campaign period, constituting Violence Against Women in Elections (Vawe).
In a separate statement earlier, the Joint Domestic Gender Delegation Team, which was deployed to observe women’s political participation in the electoral processes, also stated that it would continue supporting women post-elections.
According to the Malawi Electoral Commission, 304 women competed in the Parliamentary race, up from 261 in the 2014 elections, representing a 15 percent increase.
The number of female MPs has fluctuated since the first multiparty election in 1994. From 10 legislators in 1994, the number rose to 18 in 1999, to 27 in 2004, 43 in 2009 and 32 in 2014.