Lilongwe — Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Kikkan Haugen has challenged political parties in the country to provide conducive environment for women participation in decision making positions.
He was speaking Monday during a 50-50 Campaign Media Interaction at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.
Haugen said once political parties adhere to this it would help to promote the 50-50 women campaign as championed by The 50-50 Campaign Management Agency.
He pointed out there is need to increase women's political participation leading up to the elections in May next year.
"There is a challenge in Malawi because there are low levels of political participation of women in decision making; for instance less than 17 percent of Members of Parliament are women," the Ambassador said.
He appealed to youth movements of various political parties to avoid intimidating women during political party campaigns.
"It is only unfair in a country where women population is more than that of men to have fewer women in decision making positions," Haugen added, noting that there was potential in the country to increase women participation in elected and other leadership positions.
He expressed optimism that the current 50-50 women campaign would be a success as a lot of lessons were drawn from previous campaigns. He said there was extensive research that revealed a number of bottlenecks and forces that work against women's participation.
The Ambassador said, "Among others we discovered that starting earlier, being more coordinated at an earlier stage and also being more proactive during the period leading up to the primaries would help in mounting a successful campaign."
Acting Director of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Joseph Kazima said as a ministry their role was to make sure that all stakeholders were implementing the 50-50 campaign in line with government policies by following the national program on increasing women participation in politics and other leadership positions.
"In this regard we are targeting even the political parties, the women themselves, the voters to make sure that all the preparations to the 2019 tripartite elections are done effectively," he said
Kazima called for support from both men and women folks to ensure that the campaign is a success.
Lilongwe based Media houses were invited to the interaction meeting.