A Gender Perspective on Electoral Processes in Malawi: The Right of Malawian Women to Participate in the Political Process under the Maputo Protocol
Keywords:Women's rights, Maputo Protocol, African Charter, democracy, representation, positionality, African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, Malawi
Against the background of recent political developments in Malawi, this article provides a gender perspective on Malawian women’s participation in political life. It focuses on the position of women as candidates for political office and explores what determines women’s positioning, the hurdles that exist in their path when entering the political domain and, correspondingly, the obligations that the state has to level the playing field to overcome such hurdles. As a point of departure, it is proposed that Malawi, which since the coming into force of the 1994 Constitution is democratically organised, cannot be deemed fully democratic and legitimate if women and men do not have an equal opportunity to serve their communities through parliamentary representation. Malawi has ratified the African Charter, the Maputo Protocol and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Therefore, it is bound by a multitude of international provisions which promote and protect democracy and women’s rights to political participation. The objective of this article is to analyse how effective the Malawian government has been in implementing women’s political rights as guaranteed under regional human rights law. Using the method of positionality to unveil discrimination and disadvantage, the authors’ arguments presented in this article depart from the idea that internal change can be grounded on legal interventions which implement the legal obligations set out in the African Charter, the Maputo Protocol and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
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