CCJP wants more women’s participation in politics

By Wanangwa Tembo

Programmes Manager for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Mwai Sandram, says there is a need to invest more in interventions that seek to promote women’s participation in politics if the country is to register meaningful female representation in elected positions.

He was speaking in Kasungu on Wednesday when the Good Governance Campaigner unveiled a K170 million project meant to increase women’s participation in elections.

Sandram noted that it is worrisome that, despite more women than men turning out to register and vote, very few show interest in contesting for positions.

Mwai Sandram

He said: “Given the low numbers of female candidates, the low numbers of women elected is not and should not be surprising.
Very few women show interest in contesting due to several factors.”

“We talk of economic, cultural and ethnic factors, a lack of affirmative action, intra-party inclusivity and other retrogressive practices. So, we have come up with this project to ensure that we create interest and space for more women players in the coming elections.”

He said women’s ability to make meaningful impact in male-dominated councils and parliament will always be limited unless their representation reaches a minimum of 30 percent to enable them to have a collective voice.
Chairperson for Kasungu Civil Society Network, Braxton Banda, said the project has come at the right time when all countries are fighting to increase women’s representation in decision-making institutions.

“Representation is very key in influencing decision-making. That is why we welcome this initiative, as it will ensure that more women get interested and contest the elections.

“We understand our politics is heavily commercialised such that women find it difficult to join the race due to financial restraints to sustain the campaign that is dominated by handouts,” Banda said.

He appealed to civil society institutions to help clear the way for more women’s participation by challenging the vices that oppress and disadvantage female candidates during elections. 

Funded by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project will be piloted in the newly created Kasungu South West Constituency before spreading to other areas.

Out of the 193 Members of Parliament in the country, only 44 are women, representing 23 percent, and only 15 percent of the councillors are female.