BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Efforts by the United Nations (UN) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malawi aimed at achieving gender equality by 2023 are under threat as President Lazarus Chakwera continues to sideline women in crucial positions.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment is the core of UNDP Malawi’s work with a focus on inclusive forms of participation but the current Malawi leader is doing the contrary by pushing women to the periphery of the government machinery.
In his 31-member cabinet which was heavily criticized for being full of cronies saw only four women making it to full cabinet ministers.
The female ministers include UTM Secretary General Patricia Kaliati who is appointed Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare, Educationist Agness Nyalonje of UTM is now Minister of Education, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) lawmaker Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda is appointed key ministerial position of Minister of Health.
Another female Cabinet minister is legislator Nancy Tembo who has been given the portfolio of Forestry and Natural Resources.
As if that is not enough, the president has now all-men league of eleven advisors. This is departure from what he promised during the campaign on the 50-50 campaign.
The advisors include Moses Kunkuyu, Special advisor on Chiefs and Rural Governance, Maxwell Thyolera, ex legislator for Lilongwe North East, is now Presidential Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs, Ephraim Chibvunde, Peoples Party vice president for the South, is presidential advisor on Political Affairs.
Chancellor Kaferapanjira, former CEO of Malawi Confederation of Commerce and Industry, is Chief Economic Advisor, Samson Lembani is Chief Advisor on Public Policy and Governance while Colleen Zamba is Chief Advisor on Sustainable Development Goals and International Relations.
Chris Chaima Banda is Chief Advisor on Strategy and Manifesto Implementation, musician Lucius Banda is Advisor on Youth and Arts, Cleric Brian Kamwendo, former deputy secretary general of Nkhoma Synod is the Presidential Advisor on Christianity, Sheikh Hashim Abbas is Advisor on Muslims and Nick Chakwera who is the Advisor on Political Affairs.
Unlike Chakwera, his predecessor Peter Mutharika has been including women in his league of advisors since 2014.
The State House is also dominated by men with only Martha Chikuni holding a substantial position of Head of Marketing.
Ironically, Chakwera committed to champion 50-50 campaign and endorsed the ‘women manifesto.’
Main issues in the manifesto include women and education, women and health, women and economic empowerment, women and agriculture, women and leadership, politics and governance.
Late Bingu wa Mutharika, the President of Malawi from 2004 to 2012, still remain the only president who was eager to demonstrate that Malawi would make progress on its regional and international commitments to increase the numbers of women in decision-making spaces.
During his time, Malawi had the highest number of female candidates it had ever had and 43 seats out of 193 seats were eventually won by women.
Though they later parted ways, Mutharika was the one who brought Joyce Banda in the spotlight and eventually she became the first female president in the Southern African country.
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