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Is Malawi ready for another Joyce Banda ?

By Rick Dzida

Former President Joyce Banda

Female participation is inadequate in all sectors of life. This is the status quo despite deliberate efforts by both gender activists and feminists to encourage females to be bold enough to take influential positions in the society.

In the education sector, for example, there are more males than females despite the fact that 52% of Malawi’s population are females.

I still recall that in my physics class at Chancellor College some decades ago, there was only one girl against 14 boys.

It isn’t therefore flabbergasting to note that even in the Civil Service, men’s dominance in occupying top managerial positions has become the norm.

The dismal female participation has not spared the political fraternity too.

Have you noticed that even the most popular political parties such as Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have never had a female party president?

In Fact, currently all DPP party presidential aspirants are all men.

If big parties have no regard to host a female party president, the possibility of Malawi being headed by a female president looks bleak considering that 50% + 1 electoral system is being used to determine the winner of the Presidential election.

At least, Joyce Banda was bold enough to stand as a presidential candidate in 2014. But why did she lose the Presidential race?

We may recall that Joyce Banda was an accidental president who ascended to power just to complete Bingu wa Mutharika’s term of office.

Perhaps one of the reasons Joyce Banda lost the Presidential election was that  massive looting of government resources dubbed cashgate was unearthed during her reign.

Besides the subsequent cashgate scandals, were Malawians prepared to have a female president?

With a large proportion of registered voters being women, one would expect that women voters would support their fellow woman.

Unfortunately, it is widely known that women do not support each other.

In the United States of America, for example, it is on record that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton got more votes from men than from her fellow women.

Furthermore, religious beliefs that a man must have dominion over women have negatively impacted women’s participation in politics in our country.

Over 90% of Malawians are religious. Both Islam and Christianity promote male dominance over women.

One question we need to address is what can be done to promote women participation in politics?

First, we need to put in place gender sensitive policies, both at national and party level, that will deliberately favour women.

For example, we can dedicate one constituency in each district where all contestants are females.

Second, since our education system is dominated by males, affirmative action policies that favour females in both government secondary schools and public universities selection should be sustained.

Third, since religion has brainwashed its followers with the notion of male dominance over women, mindset change programs in the form of panel discussions, school curriculum and mass media outlets should be initiated.

Fourth, with the introduction of 50% + 1 electoral system, all electoral alliances are encouraged to feature a female presidential candidate in 2025.

Fifth, in case electoral alliance cannot afford to feature a female presidential candidate, then it becomes mandatory that the running mate must be a woman.

In conclusion, although the plausibility of having a female president in 2025 looks bleak, the aforementioned measures of promoting female participation in the politics fraternity can be taken.

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