By Pilirani Mazizi
In an effort to empower rural women and girls in different areas of the country, Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) – Malawi Chapter, has launched a 50-50 campaign aimed at mobilizing community members to vote for women aspirants in the forthcoming tripartite elections.
Speaking during the launch which took place in the area of Senior Chief Kalumbu, Lilongwe District, chairperson for RWA – Malawi Chapter, Miss Alice Kachere, said if communities vote for more women to become members of parliament and councillors in the May 21 elections, it will help to curb challenges that women and girls are facing in different parts of the country.
In particular to her constituency, Kachere said she believes that if the electorate vote for a woman, the area can be certain that development activities will follow. She says women have passion for development.
“We have launched this campaign to voice out our concerns and advocate for female leadership in decision making positions. I believe women will bring the desired change in my community which we have not seen for many years. For example, we have Kalumbu community day secondary school in my area which is in a pathetic state and not ideal for a girl child. This makes it difficult for girls to go far with their education. The school does not have change rooms, proper sanitary facilities, laboratory, hostels and many other facilities. Most girls who want to concentrate on their education are on self-boarding but that has proved to be difficult and unsafe for them,” she said.
Senior Chief Kalumbu conquered with Kachere saying that he supports what RWA members are advocating for in his area. He says women are always in the forefront with the development agenda.
“We need to put women in decision making positions. Fortunately for me I have a shadow Member of Parliament and three more women vying for councillor position. If she (shadow MP) makes it to parliament, am sure she will really articulate what women are facing in the constituency,” he said.
Responding to what he is doing to end gender based violence and early marriages in the area, Senior Chief Kalumbu said he has a committee that makes sure that no child is forced into marriage. In addition, girls who fall pregnant while in school, are given a chance to go back to school after delivery.
Through the campaign, women under the RWA banner are encouraged to help women aspirants in mobilising support to increase their chances of being elected in the May 21 tripartite elections.
Apart from promoting women leadership, the campaign will also raise awareness about the dangers of violence against women and how community members can work together to end the practice.
The campaign launch was made possible with support from 1 billion rising revolutions and was also graced by officials from Oxfam.
The Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) is a self-organised network/alliance of national rural women’s movements, assemblies, grassroots organisations and chapters of mixed peasant unions, federations and movements across eight countries in the SADC region.
The Rural Women Assembly in Malawi was officially launched in 2015. The National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM) acts as the secretariat but works with other organisations in promoting the movement such as Oxfam, ActionAid and many others who work towards empowering women at all levels in the society.
Currently, the movement has established its footing in 17 districts, namely: Karonga, Mzimba, Rumphi, Nkhotakota, Mchinji, Lilongwe, Ntchisi, Dowa, Kasungu, Zomba, Chiradzulu, Phalombe, Mulanje, Nsanje, Balaka, Ntcheu, and Thyolo.