By Robert Kumwenda

The Women Manifesto Movement which is a grouping of various civic society organizations on human rights has urged the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), which is mandated by the Gender Equality Act to monitor the enforcement and implementation of the Act and take a stand in continued violation of the Act.

Maggie Kathewera Banda made these remarks at Blantyre City Council after handing over a letter of showing their dissatisfaction by government failure to follow the sixty to forty percent ratios for men and women in decision making positions.

She said MHRC and other government institutions should ensure that the appointing authority is compliant to the law and accountable.

“It will undermine its mandate duty in overseeing the implementation of the gender equality and human rights and will be considered bias and playing double standards,” she said.

Banda also said that development partners should stand with them to make Government accountable and respect the rule of law saying the path Government is taking now is retrogressive.

She said Women’s Rights and the Gender Equality Act are serious human rights and constitutional imperatives and Government should not be allowed to undermine laws at will.

“We are and therefore keep demanding that the President defends and safeguards the Constitution he swore to defend by having fair opportunities availed to all citizens on the basis of the Gender Equality Act and merit. Secondly, the President should lead by example in the respect of the law hence ensure that the Gender Equality Act, in particular section 11, is being implemented and upheld,” she said.

Banda further said recent appointment are a missed opportunity for change, and that through them, the country’s leadership would rather continue on what has at best been a deliberate and consistent effort stereotypically characterize women as unfit for leadership, even over issues of unique concern to them.

On 23 September this year, the nation woke up to the news that appointments into 67 parastatal boards were made and that about 80 percent have registered representation of women ranging from zero to less than forty percent. Up to ten of the boards do not have any female at all and only seven out of 67 boards have female chairpersons, according to Banda.

Afred Nyengo, Director of Human Resource received the letter on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer for the council.

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