Women’s Legal Resources Centre (WORLEC) says despite full and equal women participation in politics being a prerequisite for democratic governance in the country, women continue to be marginalised in the political arena.
Nsanje’s WORLEC Women Enhanced Active Citizenship and Economic Empowerment Project Officer, Facio Gavern, made the sentiments Sunday during a political debate his organization organized with support from Dan Church Aid in Chigumukire Ward in Nsanje Central Constituency.
He said the status quo was due to discriminatory cultural practices and disproportionately low access to quality education, healthcare and resources.
Gavern said it was now campaign period when candidates were selling their manifestos.
He said candidates, therefore, needed to listen to women on critical issues concerning them so that they make efforts to address the issues.
He further said a Manifesto was a direct result of concern about the insufficient attention given to critical issues affecting women.
“It is also the result of concern about women under-representation in politics, policy and decision making levels and in public life in general.
“Given the challenges that women are confronted with, it is important to put in place mechanisms that would progressively draw attention to their needs and concerns and enable them to participate actively in public affairs.
“This is the right time for women in the country to take a leading role in participating in all matters relating to politics,” said Gavern.
“While some women are contesting for various positions in the forthcoming elections, some should also participate in electing duty bearers who can deliver on their concerns as women,” he added.
The WORLEC Project Officer further said it was through open electoral debates that women could be empowered to use their votes as a bargaining tool and recruit others to do the same.
“This is the reason WORLEC, through Dan Church Aid support, decided to bring the candidates together through a debate so that women should be able to appreciate their manifestos and see if their issues have been taken on board.
“We want women to be part and parcel of the whole process and ably participate,” he said.
The debate attracted three shadow ward councilors for the Chigumukire Ward namely Kafumphe Dzowa of DPP, Hamilton Tembo of UTM and Honest Sande of MCP. It was highly patronised by the women and youth.
All candidates promised to ensure that women issues such as safe motherhood, gender based violence and harmful cultural practices are taken into consideration.
“We all must agree that women’s understanding of our manifestos as candidates is crucial for them to vote for us or any duty bearer come May 21.
“Today, they have asked us what we intend to do to address issues that concern them. The debate has given us and the women an opportunity to tackle issues that will benefit them,” said Kafumphe Dzowa.
Malita Kanaventi who patronized the debate noted that most of the times issues concerning women have been undermined despite taking part in the voting processes.
“I am very sure that what we have agreed today with the candidates will help address issues that concern the women once we put them on the seat.
“This debate has even assisted us to know the right candidate to vote for that will have issues of women at heart,” said Kanaventi.