Let’s give women a chance!

From the local to the global level, women’s leadership and political participation are seen not to be increasing. Though in some developed countries women are seen to be holding higher political positions but that is not the case in Malawi. United States of America will hold elections in November 2016 but we have already seen a female presidential candidate taking the lead. The same is in United Kingdom and Germany where they have women heading the countries.

 Women are underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elected office, the civil service, the private sector or academia. This occurs despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change, and their right to participate equally in democratic governance.

This month we have a mother’s day holiday on 15, showing and  respecting the significance of women. It’s a good way of appreciating the role women have played in our lives.

Women face several obstacles to participating in political life. Structural barriers through discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s options to run for office. Capacity gaps mean women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.

As Malawi Electoral Commission we are yearning to see to it that for the 1 November 2016 women have been given a chance to participate in the by-elections.  political participation notes, “Women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from the political sphere, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to health care and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.”

This is a true indication in the case of Malawi. We keep on saying that women cannot be leaders of this country. We keep on saying that Malawi is not ready for female readership.

It is now the time for Civil Society Organizations that advocates for rights of women to come out and support our women.

Individual women have overcome these obstacles with great acclaim, and often to the benefit of society at large. But for women as a whole, the playing field needs to be level, opening opportunities for all.

We need to support our women so that we can achieve the 50-50 campaign supporting women in politics. Women as agents for change should not only be used to mobilize eligible voters during campaign but also be given a chance to be part of the electoral process including being contestants.