The May 21 Tripartite Elections despite being immensely contested as evidenced by several court petitions against some results, has registered so many positives and a number of firsts.
Malawi National Assembly has the youngest female member of Parliament (MP), and for the first time in history, Malawi has a female Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara.
Gotani Hara’s win and all women who have made it, be in the Local Government election or Parliamentary election, calls for celebration not only among the women folk, but as a country. This is progress and sure fire-sign that as country, Malawi is slowly but steadily embracing gender equality.
Political parties, especially the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) deserve a special mention for making deliberate efforts to put forward names of female members of their parties for the position of Speaker of the National Assembly.
Unless such deliberate efforts are made, women’s progress up the corporate and political ladder will remain limited. Despite a myriad of government policies and programmes introduced to ensure that women’s talents and skills are recognised, there is still some pockets of resistance from society and within organisations to let women lead from the front.
Malawian politics have been infamous for using women as accompaniments for the political parties. Their only significant role in the party was to wiggle their waists at party rallies. It is because of this background that Gotani Hara’s historical win as Speaker of the National Assembly as well as the success of all the 45 female legislators and those who won local government election, epitomise a new phase in Malawian politics—a phase where women are being recognised as equal to their male counterparts, and a phase in which men are slowly letting go of their egos and are accepting that they can be led by a woman.
No woman has been handed victory on a silver platter. They all had to fight hard battles just like their male counterparts. One can only wish that, as a country, this is just a beginning of more opportunities being opened up for women. From here, it can only go forward and not backwards. It is my hope that come 2024, political parties will also make such deliberate efforts to field more women in important positions, including being presidential aspirants