Empowering Women as Leaders in Malawi

The Active Learning Centre (ALC), an NGO partner of CRADALL’s, has been delivering active democracy projects across the world for 20 years, from Eastern Europe to South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. ALC senior associates, Susan Dalgety and Danny Phillips, are just back from running democracy workshops in Malawi, working with the Ministry of Gender and the Women’s Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC) on a project, funded by the Scottish Government, to identify and train 2000 women to consider standing in the next year’s local government elections. ALC have recruited and trained 41 democracy development trainers who are based across the country. Working in pairs, they are out in the field identifying and recruiting women who may want to stand to be councillors. “Our training is the first rung on the ladder to getting elected,” says Susan. “We are searching for women who are thinking of standing. Women from a range of backgrounds: community activists, teachers, nurses, small businesswomen, women in political parties and independents. We want to give them a chance to seriously think about standing for election.” The project invites these women to take part in active democracy workshops. The workshops cover the rules and responsibilities for candidates: the financial commitment, how to register. More importantly the workshops help women to think about why they want to stand, what they want to see changed in the communities and how they can go about doing that. As Susan explains: “It is crucial that women are represented in local democracy in Malawi. Local government has important powers to run education, develop local infrastructure, run health services and ensure the supply of potable water. “While Malawi is making real progress for example, in health and literacy rates, and the country has enjoyed some economic growth over the last decade, significant gender inequalities persist and there big development challenges ahead. Women must be part of the decision making process, in communities, local government and parliament.” “Take the issue of water,” Danny explains. “Dirty water kills more people than malaria, HIV and road traffic accidents combined. Worldwide, dirty water kills 2000 children a day. “In Malawi, collecting water is women’s work. As you travel around the country you see women and girls of all ages walking many miles with huge buckets on their heads taking clean water to home to feed and wash their families. Girls who have to carry water are not at school. Women who have to carry water are not working in the fields growing food to feed their families.” He goes on: “Water is life, and to improve life women must be part of the conversation about water supply, where it should be, who can access it, how much do they invest in it. They need to be able to scrutinise government and NGOs’ water strategies to make sure money allocated to water infrastructure is used for its intended purpose – and is in the right place.” The project, Empowering Malawi Women as Leaders, forms part of the Government of Malawi’s 50-50 strategy to encourage more women to stand for election. For more information see www.emwal.org jordan release date | Women's Sneakers

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