Accepted paper:

Our demands! Our voices! Women`s Manifesto in Malawi


Ngeyi Ruth Kanyongolo (University of Malawi)
Anthony Jeckson Malunga (Institute of Gender Development in Malawi)

Paper short abstract:

Women collective voices to demand their rights from duty bearers has been disjointed in Malawi. In the run up to the May 2019 general elections, Malawian Women from all walks of life have mobilised their voices in a social movement organising leading to a compendium of demands, a Women`s Manifesto.

Paper long abstract:

Women political participation and their role in decision making has been low in Malawi. This is despite the enabling laws and policies both at local and international and regional level that Malawi has signed up to. These promote active participation and decision making of women as a matter of rights. One challenge has been lack of organised women voices to speak to power and collectively challenge the continued discrimination in as far as political and decision making participation is concerned.

In anticipation of the May 2019 general elections, Women`s Rights Organisations have mobilised interested stakeholders in the gender justice sector to create a social movement of women collective voices. A Women`s Manifesto Movement has been formed and women from across Malawi has been challenged to raise their collective voice to demand their rights. A range of demands including on duty bearers actions on violence against women and girls, women economic empowerment, access to education, justice and health. However, the issues of Women leadership, governance and participation in decision making had the prominent demands.

Generated from the data on lived realities from women and girls. The paper draws from a range of women voices in both rural and urban areas. In the Women Manifesto generated from the voices, a compendium of demands on women political participation and leadership have been elucidated.

Evident from the compendium is the power that women movement building at local and national level can amplify voices louder enough to tingle duty bearers slackness into desired action.

panel B2
Just add women? The developmental impact of opening up politics to women