Women in Malawi react to female cabinet appointments

Young activists at the "She Decides" march against sexual violence in Lilongwe, Malawi, on March 2, 2020. Alice McCool/Thomson Reuters Foundation
Young women activists march in Lilongwe, Malawi, on March 2, 2020. Women make up an important voting bloc in the country. (Photo: Alice McCool/Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Just a few days after the swearing-in of new ministers in Malawi, women in rural communities have shown optimism with a good representation of women in the cabinet.

Gertrude Chawala, 53, said in an interview that she is glad that the president has fulfilled his promise of including and empowering women in higher positions of the government.

Women in Malawi face a lot of challenges including gender-based violence, inequalities and sexual violence. Many girls and women now believe in the band of new female ministers appointed that they will push for freedom from some of the obstacles that they have been facing for decades.

“For so long, women have been undermined when it comes in leading key positions, for this reason, it has been a trend that our voices weren’t loud enough to make a significant impact. I believe that 39 percent representation of women in the cabinet will see our daily life challenges getting minimized,” said Chawala, a local primary school teacher.

At a wider scope, women in Malawi are marginalized in terms of economic development, reproductive health, education, human rights just to mention a few. With this remark, I personally urge women who have made it into the cabinet to use their positions wisely, this is might be our breakthrough,” she said.

Anime Banda, a 43-year-old business lady, also believes that the newly appointed cabinet especially women in the cabinet will help to aid the youth and women from some of the stagnant economic challenges that have been in existence for so long.

“There are many potential youth and women out here who can contribute to the economy of this country, but there are some policies that hinder us from progressing. For instance, it’s hard for most of us to access bank loans because our businesses are small for them to earn our trust. It is, therefore, my appeal to the new cabinet, especially women ministers because they know our problems better,” she said.

The newly appointed cabinet consists 39 percent of the ministerial and deputy ministers, a development which has applauded by many.

According to the newly appointed deputy minister of labor, Vera Kamtukule, she will ensure that women rights are respected in terms of equality in workplaces.

“I know how women are treated in various workplaces, I believe this is the chance to ensure that women get access to deserving job positions and also ensuring that men and women are treated equally,” she said.

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