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The Importance of Female Representation in Politics

The importance of women representation in power positions especially political positions has become an important focus on global development policy. The low rates of women participation at the highest levels of politics is a lasting problem in gender stratification. The Tonse Alliance promised to make gender equality a reality in Malawi, with a 40/60 representation as required by the law, during their campaigns and gathered the support of multitudes of women who believed in their cause and cast their votes. However after their victory, only 10% of public appointments were given to women, the extent of which can be seen through the parastatal board appointments. Women constitute approximately 50% of any population and so if the interests of half the population are underrepresented in the legislature then the policies of the state are less likely to represent the interests of women which in turn results in legislature that does not meet their needs.

The women of Malawi refuse to stand back and accept this. We voted for equality and nothing was delivered therefore individuals in support of the gender equality that was promised rallied together to protest against gender imbalanced boards. Some individuals have argued that the reason for this is that the habits of a conservative party are difficult to change. The obstacles that cultural and traditional values pose on gender inequality seem to remain significant especially in Malawi where several practices and norms favour the patriarchy. These values will perpetuate gender inequality and female participation in legislative politics will likely be ignored by elite opinion leaders and the general public in order to maintain a male oriented status quo. For a long time the role of women in political gatherings has been to dance and sing for the male leaders however when it comes down to providing key decision-making roles to women, we are suddenly sidelined and overlooked, this is evident with the lack of women representation in the Tonse Alliance board appointments.

Several people also took to social media to express their thoughts on the current status of the board appointments letting the government know that the law was one of the tools that made the fresh elections possible and now that it’s time to give women their portion of the cake suddenly the government no longer wants to comply with the rules of the law. According to the NGO Gender Co-ordination Network, of the 54 parastatals analysed whose appointments were officially announced on the 23rd of September 2020, 11 (20.37%) were compliant with section 11 of the Gender Equality Act (2013) which means 43 (79.63%) of state owned enterprises did not uphold compliance with the Gender Equality Act. The protests seek to inform government that we will not be silenced and that women’s rights are human rights, there is an expectation for the current government to respect the Gender Equality Act and the very rule of law that put them into power. We expect the promises that were made to us when our support was needed to be respected, Malawi wa Tonse was the promise therefore Malawi wa Tonse should be reflected.

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