The 50-50 campaign will remain a dream if political parties in the country continue to deliberately frustrate aspiring female candidates for the May 20 Tripartite Elections, the Association of Progressive Women (APW) has cautioned.
APW in its assessment of primary elections in Chikhwawa and Nsanje has noted that political parties did not support female aspirants despite the campaign to achieve the 50 percent female representation.
APW district coordinator for Chikhwawa, Richard Banda, said only former diplomat Agrina Mussa of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is standing on a party ticket in the district.
“But it was clear that she struggled. She was threatened all along,” he said.
Banda, however, said it was a sad story for all four aspiring female MPs who expressed interest to represent People’s Party (PP) in the district.
“They all lost and the party did not even express regret over this. How can we achieve the 50-50 campaign if parties are not showing interest to promote aspiring female candidates,” wondered Banda.
He said APW has consulted the women who have all expressed willingness to stand as independent candidates. APW will support them with limited cash, he said.
DPP national director of women affairs Patricia Kaliati told a rally vat Mgona in Lilongwe on Saturday that the party has 43 female aspirants who won primary elections. The figure gives a 22 percent women representation.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Jessie Kabwila could not indicate the number of female aspirants who have so far won primaries. She, however, said female aspirants were not charged any participation fee.
UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo said the party has a deliberate policy to encourage female aspirants. He said the party pegged the nomination fees for female MP aspirants at K20 000 (about $50) while their male counterparts paid K30 000 (about $75).
PP deputy spokesperson Ken Msonda claimed the party gives equal chance to women to contest on any position in the party.
“It is up to women to take leadership position because you can only take a camel to where it can drink but you can’t force it to drink the water. Our president is female; hence this is a good example that PP is promoting women in political space.”
Emma Kaliya of the NGO-Gender Coordinating Network, which is championing the 50-50 campaign, maintained that the initiative is on course.
“We can’t say we have enough resources. But the few resources that we have will still help us to achieve our goals. With few resources in place, there is need for women to join hands and help one another.”
Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) executive director Rafiq Hajat, however, said it would take many years to achieve the 50-50 ideal.
“It would take many years [to achieve it]. But that does not mean we shouldn’t try. I suggest the campaign should be analysed further to ascertain evidence because gender balance also takes into account the cultural aspects. It would take about two generations for us to achieve the 50-50 representation,” he said.