The Parliamentary Women’s Caucus attended a 2 day workshop organized by key development partners on Women’s Leadership with a Difference. The objective of the activity was to build the capacity of the Women Parliamentarians in specific areas 0f interest which include; women’s leadership, the role of Malawi Women MPs in Malawi’s Democracy
and Governance, Resource Mobilization, and working with the media. This workshop is a follow up to the request made by the Women MPs during consultative meetings with Oxfam Malawi and Partners since they were elected into office in May 2019.
Oxfam Malawi Country Director, Ms Lingareni Mihowa, provided a background of how the idea of the Women’s Retreat came about. Ms Mihowa thanked consortium members for their contributions towards the event. She highlighted the need for women’s leadership in Malawi to make a difference, particularly if women capitalize on the specific skills they possess. She encouraged civil society organizations to not solely focus on increasing women’s representation in Parliament, but to work towards sensiziting communities around the country on the importance of women in leadership.
British High Commissioner, Her Excellency Holly Tett, discussed the challenges that female MPs have as a minority in Parliament, and reminded members of Parliament that ‘ it not just about getting elected, but what you do as a member of Parliament’.
Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Catherine Gotani Hara, informed those in attendance that the parliament of Malawi will aim to drive the gender agenda, ensuring to put gender at the forefront, so that boys and girls have an equal opportunity. Ms. Gotani Hara reminded those in attendance that women leaders are often scrutinized more critically than their male counterparts. She went on to state, that the Parliament of Malawi supports women’s ideals. She urged civil society organizations, and relevant partners to continue supporting women. Finally, she called upon the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare to push for laws and policies that will ensure that there are more women in parliament.
The Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Hon. Mary Navicha, highlighted the ways in which women’s leadership can make a difference in Malawi’s democracy. She encouraged female members of Parliament to sharpen their skills in order to make their work more visible.
MP for Glasgow North East, Hon Anne Mclaughlin, provided a presentation on women’s leadership. Hon. Mclaughlin discussed the specfic challenges women face in securing a seat in parliament. She went on to discuss futher challenges women face once they secure a seat in Parliament, and how these challenges can be overcome. Hon. Mclaughlin also discussed ; the many forms of leadership, the key qualities of a strong leader, barriers for women, and what it means to be women in politics.
Oxfam UK Trustee and Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham, Nic Cheeseman, delivered a presentation on ‘ How women MPs can make a difference in Parliament’. Professor Cheeseman discussed ; evidence of women’s impact in parliament and how this impact can be achieved through ‘ABLE’. ‘ABLE’, a framework tool developed by himself and a research associate, encourages female MPs to build alliance’s (A), build bridges (B), lobby (L), and Eductate (E), in order to improve their impact in parliament.
Finally Dr Mary Shawa provided a presentation on Health and Nutrition, and touched on areas that female MPs needed to convey to their constituents, particularly regarding communicable diseases.