Malawi Police Service (MPS) has promoted 256 officers of whom 32 percent are women thereby earning praise from gender activists and human rights campaigners.
The promotions comprise two commissioners, five deputy commissioners, 10 assistant commissioners, 27 senior superintendents, 22 superintendents, 91 assistant superintendents and 99 inspectors.
Inspector General of Police George Kainja said in an interview on Wednesday that the promotions list is dominated by men because women only constitute 36 percent of the total police service.
This is the first promotion galore in the service under Chakwera’s administration. In 2019 the Mutharika administration promoted about 8 000 officers ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
These new promotions have also come amid unresolved conflict between MPS and 53 of its officers who are demanding promotions after upgrading their qualifications. However, only three of the officers have been considered for the promotions.
Kainja said there are several considerations when effecting promotions that upgrading alone was not enough.
He said: “Upgrading alone does not guarantee a promotion. Everyone is put on the same scale with others to be evaluated and the evaluation involves education qualification, individual dedication to service, duration of service and the length of waiting on the promotion list.”
From the gender perspective, the 32 percent women promoted stands closer to the provisions of the Gender Equality Act (2013) which require a 40-60 proportion of either gender in all public appointments.
Section 11(1) of the Act reads in part: “An appointing or recruiting authority in the public service shall appoint no less than forty percent and no more than sixty percent of either sex in any department in the public service.”
In an interview on Tuesday, gender rights activist Emma Kaliya described the promotions as encouraging and progressive considering the number of female officers who have made it on the list.
She said she could have loved to see more women promoted.
But Kaliya, who is also a director at Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre, attributed the gap in representation between men and women to recruitment level.
She said: “However, 32 percent though below the provision stipulated in the Gender Equality Act’s prescribed 40/60 quota, still progressive as compared to the past trends.
“I take this opportunity to congratulate them [Police] for taking this encouraging stand. We hope that they can keep up the pace in all future promotions in order to reach the Gender Equality Act threshold.”
In his reaction, Men for Gender Equality Now national chairperson Marcel Chisi said the increase in the number of female officers being promoted was a motivation for more women to join the service.
He said the police cannot be faulted for failing to meet the required threshold under the Gender Equality Act because the service is male-dominated.
“It is encouraging that the few women that are in the service have been recognised. This is a step in the right direction. The police should have a deliberate approach to recruit more women,” said Chisi, who is also national chairperson for Men Engage Alliance, a global movement that promotes gender equality.
Besides the police, the new administration has also promoted some officers at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services where some of those elevated previously also received upgraded badges to reflect their new ranks.