By Sylvester Kumwenda
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe has embarked on a transformative campaign that aims at eliminating social norms that hinder capable women from attaining higher political leadership positions under the 50 – 50 campaign.
CCJP is implementing the campaign following a grant of MK 13.5 million it has received from the Royal Norwegian Embassy to implement the project in Lilongwe with the aim to achieve a 50 per cent women representation in the outcome of the 2019 tripartite elections.
On Thursday, CCJP, which has identified 10 constituencies with female candidates to implement the project in Lilongwe, took to some of the areas for capacity building and to facilitate engagement between the women aspirants and voters.
“One thing that has derailed women’s participation in politics and other leadership positions are social norms whereby women have mostly been looked down upon.
“So one of the strategies of the campaign is to deconstruct those social norms so that we create acceptance for women as also potential leaders,” field officer for CCJP in Lilongwe, Richard Kussein, told Malawi News Agency (Mana).
According to Kussein, the first quarter of the project which is being run by the Management Agency is meant to lobby Area Development Committees (ADCs) to support women aspirants and also identify constituencies that have female candidates.
These include Lilongwe City Central, Lilongwe City west and Lilongwe City South East amongst others.
The idea, he said, is to promote women participation in political leadership at both district and parliamentary level in disregard of their political affiliation.
“This is neither the concern only for CCJP nor for the Civil Society, but it is a global concern. Women have to be given an equal platform to lead as men have on both political and public administration,” said Kussein.
The activities also provided a chance for female aspirants from different political parties like the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), United Democratic Front (UDF), Peoples Party (PP), Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and other independent aspirants to introduce themselves to people in their respective constituencies.
One of the female aspirants, Donatha Nedi who is vying for the councillor seat for Mtandire Ward under the Democratic Progressive Party, told Malawi News Agency that the campaign had helped them to share ideas with their potential voters.
She said the campaign will help change the negative perceptions that people have in putting women in leadership positions.
“As a female aspirant, I have a lot of development plans for this ward. Even though I may face several challenges, the most important thing is to stay tough and focused until I achieve my goal of winning this ward,” she said.
Grace Chupa, aspiring councillor for Maria Ward in Lilongwe City Central constituency said some of the challenges women candidates are facing includes harassment, propaganda and castigation.
“Sometimes to endure all that becomes difficult,” she lamented.
The project started in August, 2018 and will run for 11 months. In Lilongwe, IGA and the Church and Society under Nkhoma Synod have also been given grants to implement the project.