Aug 25, 2010

Not ready for a female president!

What does it mean when a top politician claims “the country is not ready for a woman president?” These are the words that have been used against Malawi’s female vice-president, Joyce Banda by a member of her own political party, who also serves as a regional governor.

Pardon me while I clear the red mist from my eyes…

Ms Banda is an accomplished activist turned politician. In 1997 she founded the Joyce Banda foundation to serve the needs of Malawians in Zomba Malosa .

Some of the work done:

  • Establishment of the Nsigalira Secondary School which provides free secondary education to 200 orphans in Zomba Malosa
  • Establishment of 6 orphan centres serving 600 children, and a free nursery school.
  • Introduction of the School Uniform Programme under which uniforms are provided at no cost to pupils (those attending Nsigalira, government, and mission schools)
  • An economic empowerment programme for female guardians of orphans through micro credit
Banda is also the founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW) which boasts a membership of 30,000 women. The aim is to lift women out of poverty by empowering them economically. Training is provided in areas such as management skills, technical training, time keeping, etc.

In the cabinet she has served as Minister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services and Minister of Foreign Affairs. As the Gender minister she spearheaded the fight to pass “Malawi's recently enacted Domestic Violence Bill, which had failed for seven years previously. In addition, she designed the National Platform for Action on Orphans and Vulnerable Children and the Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Child Abuse”.

So, with these accomplishments and others, plus her current position as the deputy president why do small minded politicians like Noel Masangwi think she is not a suitable candidate for the top job?

What more does she need to do? How many more years will women have to stand by the sidelines cheering on their male counterparts before they can be considered as suitable? Or will that day not come to Malawi and other places due to the lack of the Y chromosome?

As you can tell I am terribly disappointed and just a little angry. Just a few months ago Malawi was being cheered for having more women than ever before seeking public office. Good enough to MPs and ministers but not president? What a slap in the face! 

It has become increasingly obvious to people inside and outside Malawi that President Mutharika is on his way towards establishing a family dynasty within Malawian politics; he’s unable to run for a third term and is grooming his brother for the party leadership and subsequent presidency. And as part of his sadistic strategy he has allowed a smear campaign against the country’s vice-president and other female politicians as a means of maligning them from voters.

Until President Mutharika and his cronies can point out inadequacies in Ms Banda’s work this will be nothing more than an attack on women in leadership and a backward attempt to keep power in the hands of men! Now where have I seen a similar story line?


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