By Enock Balakasi, Smash
The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has the least representation of female parliamentary candidates among the three major political parties ahead of Malawi’s watershed tripartite elections scheduled for 21 May this year.
This has been disclosed in a gendered analysis of Malawi Electoral Commission’s (MEC) 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections statistics compiled by the NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN).
According to the analysis, out of the 189 parliamentary candidates MCP has featured across the country, only 29 are females which represents 15.3 percent of female candidates in the party.
Says the analysis, “In addition, compared to DPP and UTM Party, most of the women standing on MCP ticket are not from the perceived party’s dominant regions such as central region and the lower shire.
“For instance, only 3 of the 23 constituencies in Lilongwe
have a female candidate on an MCP Ticket, in Kasungu only 1 of the 9 constituencies has a
female candidate on MCP ticket”.
The analysis adds that in Mzimba only 2 of the 12 constituencies have a female
candidate standing on MCP ticket while in Nsanje there is no woman standing for office under the MCP ticket.
“Interestingly, of the 33 constituencies in the northern region, only 2 have women standing on MCP ticket. In Chitipa, Karonga, Nkhatabay, Likoma, Mzuzu and Rumphi there are no female candidates standing on MCP ticket while UTM and DPP have fielded an average of 1 female candidate in these districts,” the analysis further states.
It says DPP has the largest number of women standing on a party ticket with 51 female parliamentary candidates out of the 192 the party has fielded across the country.
UTM follows behind DPP with 43 women out of its 191 parliamentary candidates, representing 22.5 percent of female parliamentary candidates in the party.
People’s Party (PP) has 25 female parliamentary candidates out of 81 while United Democratic Front (UDF) has 21 out of 124.
According to the analysis, among the parties currently represented in parliament, PP is the most progressive as regards inclusion of women in politics and decision making.
“The party has a female
presidential candidate and has the highest number of women standing on a party ticket.
30.8 percent of the parliamentary candidates for PP are women compared to 26.5% for DPP, 22.5% for
UTM, and 15.3% for MCP,” says the analysis.
However, the analysis has praised all the political parties for this inclusion of women, saying it is an indication that having women as political party leaders can contribute to many women participating in politics and decision making.
The analysis also notes that 123 of the 304 women contesting for parliamentary office are independents, a situation the NGO-GCN has attributed to frustration of most female aspirants due to what it describes as “glass ceilings” in political parties that made most women lose in party primary elections.
The NGO-GCN adds that this was also due to a number of factors including institutionalised systematic gender barriers in political party participation.
“Most of the political parties did not take the necessary steps to ensure that their primaries were
conducted in a free and fair manner”.
Officials of the political parties mentioned in the analysis were not immediately available for comment.
The analysis also observes that the percentage of female candidates in 2019 has increased from 261 in 2014 to 304 at present, a success which has been widely attributed to the 50:50 Campaign being championed by the 50:50 Management Agency, a consortium of various organisations including the NGO-GCN itself.
“This is a progressive output as it points to increased interest in women to stand for political office. In addition, this points to increased agency among women to be active in civic participation,” says the NGO-GCN in the analysis.
It adds: “However, learning from past voting trends and considering that a lot of the women in 2019 are competing on an independent ticket, the success rate of the women standing for parliamentary
office is likely to remain similar to 2014.
“Most of the women who will make it to parliament will win
on a party ticket. With increased and timely support for campaign material support, the success rate can be improved by between 10 to 20 percent”.
The NGO Gender Coordination Network, which currently has a membership of 54 local NGOs, promotes gender equality and women empowerment.