37% women shy away from political seats -survey – Capital Radio Malawi
29 May, 2024

37% women shy away from political seats -survey

Joyce Banda rose from many positions to Presidency

A 2021-23 Afrobarometer survey report reveals that 37% of Malawian women are likely to face criticism or harassment if they run for political office.

Our observation from the public opinion shows that most Malawians have more faith in male candidates as opposed to the opposite gender, mainly due to cultural and religious reasons.

Through the random engagement of some business persons in Blantyre, we found Peter Maliko selling second hand clothes who said; “I do not think a woman can lead the government as has been the case since 1994.”

Quickly responding to the sentiments by the gentleman, Martha Kaudzu who sells bananas around the city market area offered an unpopular opinion to her male counterpart.

“We just need opportunities to run for various office positions. Discrimination is widely promoted in our cultures and the sad part is that our children grow up with the same mentality,” Kaudzu explained.

With the 2025 tripartite elections drawing closer, gender rights advocates have recently surfaced to encourage women to contest in the polls.

The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) made a passionate plea to the public to support politically strong women to step up for the presidential candidacy in next year’s election.

“We already have some strong women who need serious support and attention from the public. They just need to rise and present different narratives of political understanding because they stand a better chance to take the mantle,” said HRCC chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba.

Support for women in politics has ticked up over the past decade (by four percentage points across 30 countries), but a woman may be discouraged from seeking office by other expected consequences of her candidacy

However, gender and trade specialist Mary Malunga observed that most women lack behind in politics due to financial instability, lack of confidence and advocacy skills among other things.

“For a person to be elected in local government or parliamentary position, there is need to sell oneself to the electorate through campaigns, and that already requires a lot of money. If they do not have the money then that is a big challenge,” Malunga narrated.

On her part, NGO-GCN executive director Maggie Kathewera Banda highlights that such an interest from women is an exercise of their human rights.

She said: “We are looking forward to a number of women that are going to participate even at the presidential level. They should not just compete at parliamentary level or local government level but even at the presidential level. They have a right to do that.”

After Joyce Banda’s 2012 to 2014 era, Malawi has not produced another female State President in the past general elections despite various interventions including the 50-50 campaign initiative.

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