By Enock Balakasi
Despite the latest reshuffle, the Malawi Cabinet remains largely male dominated as President Peter Mutharika has maintained three female ministers in his lean 20-member cabinet with one from each region of the country.
In the cabinet list, Mutharika has removed former Lands Minister Ana Kachikho and replaced her with Jean Kalirani who was Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.
He has also kept in his cabinet Grace Obama Chiumia now as Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development.
Another female cabinet minister, Cecilia Chazama, has been shifted to ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.
With these few female faces in cabinet, Malawi lags behind other developing nations in terms of the cabinet’s gender balance.
Malawi has also low representation of women in Parliament in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region, according to the Sadc Gender Unit.
Statistics from the unit show that Malawi, with 17 percent of women representation in Parliament, is on position nine on the 2014 Status of Women in Parliament Index despite ratifying the bloc’s Gender Protocol which seeks to reach gender parity in decision-making positions at all levels.
This has attracted condemnation from women activists who have pleaded that old school mentality of jobs for the boys should be wiped out.
In a press statement from NGO Gender Coordination Network signed by the network’s Chairperson Barbara Banda and Coordinator Innocent Hauya, the two described the 3 women in the new cabinet list as retrogressive.
“This is retrogressive and unacceptable because it is far less below than what is provided for in section 11 of the Gender Equality Act which stipulates that an appointing or recruiting authority in the public service shall not appoint no less than forty percent (40%) and no more than sixty percent (60%) of either sex in any department in the public service, ” reads part of the statement.
The statement further says the new cabinet list is a slap in the face of Malawians in as far as the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality is concerned in the country.
Banda and Hauya added that with all the efforts that NGO Gender Coordination Network has undertaken to ensure equal representation in decision making positions, it is unthinkable to imagine that a listof 20 Ministers with only 3 women would be appointed and authorised by a Head of State who is credited to be a He-for-She Global Champion.
“Mutharika should have been the last person in violating the Gender Equality Act
provisions. By continuing violating the very same laws he vowed to defend and protect, the President is sending a wrong message to the people of Malawi and it is questionable whether he is the right person to be a He-for-She Champion, ” adds the statement.
According to the statement, the president being the appointing authority should have also realized that Malawi is a signatory of various human rights instruments on women’s rights and gender equality such as the Convention on Elimination of All Forms Discrimination (CEDAW), African Protocol on Women’s Rights and SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
The three women cabinet ministers out of 20 represents 15 percent of women representation in the new cabinet list.
Atupele Muluzi, Jappie Mhango, Bright Msaka, Samuel Tembenu, Emmanuel Fabiano, Joseph Mwanamveka, Goodall Gondwe, Kondwani Nankhumwa and Aggrey Massi have retained their ministerial posts of health, Transport, Education, Constitutional Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Finance, Local Government and Natural Resources respectively.
Following is the full list:
State President, Minister of Defence and Commander-In-Chief of the Malawi Defence Force and the Malawi Police Service: His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Development: Honourable Goodall Gondwe.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology: Henry Mussa, M.P.
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development: Dr Jean Alfazema Kalilani, M.P.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development: Kondwani Nankhumwa, M.P.
Minister of Health and Population: Atupele Muluzi, M.P.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Francis Lazaro Kasaila M.P.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development: Joseph Mwanamveka , M.P.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology: Honourable Bright Msaka, SC.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs: Honourable Samuel Tembenu.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation: Dr Emmanuel Fabiano, M.P.
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development: Grace Chiumia , M.P.
Minister of Transport and Public Works: Jappie Mtuwa Mhango, M.P.
Minister of Homeland Security (Ministry renamed and Dodma to be transfered to this ministry) :Nicholas Dausi
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare: Cecilia Chazama, M. P
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Miming: Aggrey Masi, M. P
Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development : Everton Chimulirenji
Deputy Minister of Defense : Amos Mailosi, M. P
Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Miming: Welani Chilenga, M. P