Community Development Legal and Parliamentary Affiars Politics

Malawian, Zimbabwean women agree on need for gender equality within SADC

Hon Goodluck Kwaramba
By Nhau Mangirazi
The Malawian Women’s Parliament Caucus delegation that is in the country on a learning visit has agreed with their hosts that there is a need for gender equality within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
According to Zimbabwe Parliament’s Women’s Caucus chairperson, Hon Goodluck Kwaramba, both countries have a role to play in achieving 50:50 gender equality in the region.
Kwaramba said Zimbabwe and Malawi share a common background as both countries are struggling in terms of achieving gender equality.
Kwaramba is Proportional Representative representing the Hurungwe district.
She added that both countries have challenges in attaining gender equality.
‘‘It is imperative that we achieve this through a push for SADC Parliamentary Forum to craft a model electoral law that is favorable to women. The benchmarking visit by the Zimbabwean delegation last year was that both caucuses agreed that women parliamentarians must support each other regardless of the political divide,’’ she said.
Speaker of Parliament, Hon Jacob Mudenda encouraged female MPs to discuss with their political parties and embrace the 50:50 representation at the party level.
‘‘It is also a challenge for political parties to include gender equality in the party constitution before we get into the national political sphere. Political parties must walk the talk so that it is achievable on gender equality,’’ added Mudenda.
Malawi has a 60-40 percent representation cabinet (18 males and 12 females) that was a result of the national campaign to vote for women during the 50:50 program.
The Malawi delegation will visit Mutasa South constituency under Hon Madiwa where they will witness some of the developmental projects empowering the communities as part of the exchange program.
The exchange program is aimed at gearing up for smart politics where they collaborate on increasing female politicians in power.
Last year, a Zimbabwean delegation was hosted by Oxfam Malawi and met women’s rights organizations. They were on tour for a learning and exchange visit in Malawi from 23- 27 October 2022.
The visit was facilitated by the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) in collaboration with the Women’s Coalition in Zimbabwe and Oxfam in Zimbabwe.
WALPE executive director Sitabile Dewa said the meeting ‘created an opportunity’ for the delegation to meet and share their political participation experience to tap into the best practices.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus chairperson, Hon Kwaramba, led the local delegation during the Elect and Return her Campaign.
The campaign is spearheading developmental projects in women’s constituencies, profiling them and appealing to the electorate to elect them again in the next elections.
‘‘This will go a long way to ensure the current number of female parliamentarians in Malawi does not go down in the next elections, according to Dewa.
‘‘The Malawi team has since visited Zimbabwe to learn about the women’s parliamentary representative quota system and the establishment of the gender commission.
‘‘Last year, the Malawi visit created an opportunity for the delegation to meet and share their political participation experience to tap into the best practices. This was based on the WOMAN manifesto that was developed by the women of Malawi and has since to date increased the number of women in elected and appointed positions.
“The Woman Manifesto is a grounded document that was developed by the women of Malawi, Civil Society Organizations, and academia focusing on 11 themes that affect women across all social, political, economic, and environmental sectors. The manifesto has been shared with the President of Malawi, and political parties, and this is continuously used by the women of Malawi to demand and hold the duty bearers accountable in order to achieve gender equality, responsive services, and access to resources,’’ explained Dewa.
Since the launch of the Woman Manifesto, there is an increase in the number of women as parliamentarians.
‘‘To date, 40 women MPs came through first past the post in which most of them are independent candidates. This has motivated women to unite and have the vision to fight for equality regardless of political party lines,’’ explained Dewa.
Kwaramba was the guest of honor at a 50:50 campaign in the district of Zomba.
She applauded the unity that exists amongst the women of Malawi and how the Women’s Caucus of Malawi is advocating for the equal participation of women in decision-making processes.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende