By Richard Chirombo
The Ministry of Women and Child Development, in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations that were taking part in a project aimed at ensuring that, at least, half of parliamentary sits after the May 19, 2009 elections are amassed by women (50-50 campaign), have announced that monitoring and evaluation (M and e) of the campaign process commences in two weeks’ time.
The campaign was initiated following perceived continued suppression on Malawian women, especially leadership positions that could influence over-all national development programmes. The Malawian woman is said to be disadvantaged by traditional, cultural stereotyping, poverty and high levels of illiteracy, challenges that have cast women to the far end of most national processes despite their constituting over half of the country’s population (52 per cent).
Linley Kamtengeni, the Ministry’s expert on Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS, said in an exclusive interview in Blantyre M and E was crucial to successful implementation of future women empowerment projects- a requisite process if Malawi was to meet Southern African Development Community and other international protocols on gender and female empowerment.
She defended the idea to sponsor only women when gender encompassed both the sexes (male and female), saying while both men and women faced a fair share of challenges, it were the women who were more disadvantaged hence the campaign to help them attain positions of influence in society.
“We can say so far, so good. We have seen most women coming out of their cocoons to challenge men for political positions, but we can not fairly say how deep we have gone in up-rooting misconceptions about women without monitoring and evaluation. That is why we are starting the process in two weeks’ time,” said Kamtengeni.
The Non-Governmental Organizations Gender Support Network (NGO-GCN), a network of Malawian civil society organizations that was coordinating the campaign, confirmed the development. NGO-GCN’s Coordinator, Eunice Chamgomo, said the process, to start in two weeks time, would help implementers of the 50-50 campaign to plan forward because campaigning for women empowerment was an on-going process.
Chamgomo said, while the process could not be of immediate benefits to women contesting in the May 19, 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections (due to the time factor to the polls), it could help Malawians gauge where they could have done better and where they did better.
“This is a very importance process for us. We are committed to women empowerment, especially in electoral processes, that we are leaving no stone unturned. We want to help our women to stand up for their rights and be counted,” said Chamgomo.