Gender activists have accused government of paying lip service towards the empowenment of women, saying the development was to blame for Malawi's poor rating in gender achievement.
The activists, through women-rights NGO, Gender Coordination Network, said on Wednesday though Malawi appended her signature to the 1997 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender Declaration, in Blantyre, women still lived nder the backwaters of male domination in all spheres of life, citing politics, business and religion, among other areas.
Reen Kachere, NGO-Gender Coordination Network Chairperson for Women Empowernment in Politics, told africanews that, as a result, the best Malawi could do in terms of women empowernment in the region was position seven. She described the rating as 'shameful', "since the SADC Declaration was signed right here, and yet we are failing to export any notable achievements. The chief culprit is the government; look how many women are there?" queried Kachere.
She was, however, optimistic that the SADC region would help Malawi attain positive strides in this area. The region is ranked second in the world in terms of women representation in politics and decision making positions, just behind the NORDIC countries who lead the global chart on the same.
"Let our government do something because Malawian women have been victimised for so long, but the situation will not remain like this forever. African governments must remember that women took part in the struggle against colonialism and one party systems of government and will, therefore, rise again to take their rightful role in democracy," said Kachere, adding that government should take a lion's share of the blame.
But Information and Civic Education Minister Patricia Kaliati, who is also government spokesperson and influential figure in the political wwho-is-who of Malawi, quashed the allegations saying the current Bingu wa Mutharika administration was doing all it could to uplift the status of women.
"Look at the Foreign Affairs Minister, Joyce Banda; she is a woman. And we have a lot of women principal (permanent) secretaries. Isn't it opposition women members of parliament who rejected Mary Nangwale (former Acting Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service), that would have been a first in the history of the SADC region. So the point is that Malawian women frustrate fellow women and this will take us nowhere," said Kaliati.
Mozambique and Mauritious are some of the SADC states currently riding high in the areas of women empowerment in politics and decicion making, with Mozambique being ranked amongs the world's top ten.
But in Malawi, women are yet to make the mark, as poverty, social marginalisation, cultural beliefs and stereo-types militate against them.