Oxfam on Friday drummed up support for female legislator and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje.
Speaking at the event at Chinyanje Primary School in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlolo’s area in Nsanje North Constituency, Oxfam country director John Makina said the aim of rallying voters behind Chilenje was a bid to retain the 32 sitting female members of Parliament (MPs) in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He said: “We couldn’t address the needs of all aspirants. Currently, we are talking of over 800 female aspirants.”
Oxfam has come up with a campaign, as part of the 50:50 Campaign, themed Elect Her Gender Campaign.
Makina said building on what Oxfam already has was a step to increase female parliamentarians.
During the ceremony, Oxfam distributed five bicycles and other campaign materials such as bags to community champions to ease their mobility as they campaign for Chilenje.
“I am very impressed with Oxfam. It has said clearly ‘vote for a woman’ which equals development,” said Chilenje.
She also campaigned for United Democratic Front (UDF) female aspirant Stella Dzinga as councillor for Kalulu Ward in her constituency, showing the need for a united front and increase of women.
Gender activist and executive director for Civil Liberties Committee (Cilic), Emmie Chanika, said there is hope of increasing female parliamentarians through continued work though the hurdles are still many.
She said the challenge in the fight is that Malawian politicians do not seem to understand the playfield on issues they need to understand as parliamentarians, and would do well to borrow a leaf from the international arena, where there is increased women political participation and development.
The number of females aspiring to be MPs has soared from 268 in 2014 to 304 this year, with 114 of them running as independents, according to a list of confirmed parliamentary aspirants released by Malawi Electoral Commission.