The Women Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec) says it expects the winning candidate in Tuesday’s election to prioritise women empowerment, particularly equal representation in senior positions.
Worlec executive director Maggie Kathewera-Banda on Monday expressed concern that authorities in the private and public sectors have not respected nor complied with the Gender Equality Act, which prescribes that women should occupy 40 percent of all positions.
“We expect that the next cabinet will have equal representation of men and women. We want a responsive government that is going to value, protect and promote women rights and ensure that systems are put in place to respond to issues of gender-based violence,” said Kathewera-Banda.
She also faulted the delays in prosecuting the police officers who last year allegedly raped women and girls in Msundwe.
“A number of interventions have been done to address this issue, we had meetings, demonstrations, Women Lawyers Association is in court trying to seek justice for the same. We want to continue the dialogue to conclude this matter” she said.
Kathewera-Banda bemoaned the hostility that Malawians display towards victims of gender-based violence. She said the hostility is likely encouraged by lack of “punitive and deterrent” laws on gender-based violence.
In May last year, a few days before the general election, the Women’s Manifesto Movement handed over their manifesto to the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare for implementation.
The movement comprises the 50:50 Campaign Management Agency, Worlec, Oxfam, NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN), UN Women, Hivos and Centre for Multiparty Democracy, among others.
NGO-GCN chairperson Barbara Banda highlighted that the manifesto also serves as a guiding tool for checks and balances.
The women argue that a lot of issues affecting women are not addressed appropriately despite the progressive gender laws enshrined in the national constitution.
The manifesto has 11 key demands, including equal representation in leadership positions such as Cabinet, the establishment of a women’s bank to ensure women economic empowerment, improved maternal health services and access to justice.