Women’s Manifesto Movement says it will commence legal action against government for failing to appoint a woman in 10 statutory boards and for having less than 40 percent women in many boards.
The grouping also pledged to challenge decisions of any board that does not meet the required gender representation.
When asked on the matter. presidential press secretary Brian Banda said the Office of the President and Cabinet was better-placed to comment on the matter while Minister of Information Gospel Kazako was busy at a function in Zomba.
In a statement, the women movement says it will file with the courts by October 22 2020 because government has not been responsive to their call.
The statement indicates that apart from organising demonstrations on October 9, the movement’s lawyers, on September 27, wrote OPC, highlighting the illegalities on recent board appointments but both actions have yielded nothing.
“The Office of the President and Cabinet has not formally responded to our letter. However, our team of lawyers received a phone call from OPC on 8th October 2020 requesting that they put on hold any legal action until they discuss the matter.
“Despite several follow ups, the discussions have not
materialised as the OPC has continuously been busy and have not made any formal communication on the matter either,” reads part of the statement.
The movement also faulted government’s response to the media that the gender imbalance in the boards was because of the need to have the relevant laws aligned for clarity in ensuring equal representation in public appointments, saying the argument lacks merit.
The movement wondered why only women should be victimised as government seeks to align the laws and that: “the Malawi Constitution entrenches the human rights’ principles of gender equality, equal participation and non-discrimination, and the Gender Equality Act provides for the ratio of 40-60 of either sex in public appointments.
“Any alignment of law or the need for process, if required at all, which we doubt, would
therefore affect appointment of Both men and women, not women only as is being argued. The statements are unfortunate, lack legal merit and only reflect government’s reluctance to respect the law.”
According to the statement, following government’s non-compliance to their call, the movement will challenge decisions made by any board that is non-compliant with the to defend the constitutional principle of non-discrimination and gender equality. law and will use all lawful means
The new administration has come under fire not only from women but several civil society organisations and stakeholders for appointing few women in parastatal boards which were announced recently. The Gender Equality Act requires 60-40 representation of either men or women in public appointments.
This is the second time Chakwera is scoring low as his appointment of Cabinet was equally criticised for failing to meet the required gender representation and that most of the women appointed were deputy ministers.
During a press briefing at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe to mark his 100 days in office, President Lazarus Chakwera appealed for patience, saying achieving the required gender representation in public appointments needs time.
But in a telephone interview yesterday, one of the leaders of the movement Barbara Banda said it is surprising that the leadership needs time to consider women yet men were appointed without question.
“It is strange reasoning. Why only women should wait some more? This is non-negotiable because the law provides for it and we will not relent but fight on until the law is respected” Banda said