The Norwegian Government says it will provide limited cash support to women aspiring for positions in the forthcoming tripartite elections in an effort to help them compete evenly with their male counterparts.
In response to Weekend Nation questionnaire on Thursday following fears of funding challenges on cash handouts to female aspirants, Norwegian Ambassador Asbjørn Eidhammer said Norway will provide the money after the aspirants have registered with the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to participate in the contest for positions.
The NGO-Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) is coordinating the 50-50 campaign to support women vying for positions in the next elections to increase women representation in Parliament from the current about 22 percent.
Said Eidhammer: “In the 50-50 project run by the Gender Coordination Network which the Norwegian Embassy is supporting, there will be some limited cash support for female candidates.
“This will however only be done after official registration of candidates contesting in the elections.”
He said Norway is currently discussing modalities of proving the cash handouts to the female aspirants considering that most women have weak financial base.
“Similar support was also provided in previous elections in 2004 and 2009…The decision to provide support to female aspirants was reached upon in consultation with various stakeholders including the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare on the basis of women’s weak financial basis compared to their male counterparts.
“The embassy is supporting the 2014 elections through three avenues: the UNDP elections trust fund, the 50-50 campaign to promote women candidates, [and] the interfaith civil society grouping coordinated by the Norwegian Church Aid,” said Eidhammer
In an interview on Friday, NGO-GCN chairperson Emma Kaliya also said they are still discussing with the Norwegian Embassy on modalities of providing the cash support to women aspirants, but said they proposed a budget of K120 million to provide cash support to all female aspirants.
“It’s very difficult for me to comment on that because we don’t even know the actual amount that will be provided for cash support. That money has not been given to us. So it is premature to comment comprehensively on how important the support will be.
“In the 2009 elections, the amount given to each aspirant was K91 000 and some women said it made a difference in local transportation and other areas. But now that elections have become more commercial, we don’t know what we will be given. We are still discussing with the embassy on that,” said Kaliya.
She said the overall 50-50 campaign for all players including government institutions and non-governmental organisations was budgeted at $6 million (about K2.7 billion) and that NGO-GCN has managed to raise K335 million for its operations and activities.
Kaliya said the NGO-GCN will use the money for training, procurement of campaign materials and running media campaigns to increase chances of women to get positions.