NGO lobbies for increased women representation in local development structures

Umunthu Plus, a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) is lobbying for increased women representation in local development structures in Nkhotakota district, in a quest to improve development initiatives targeting women at all levels.

The organization’s Programs Manager, Faidah Amuran Phiri notes that low representation of women in development structures such as, Area Development Committees (ADCs) retards developmental progress, as most decisions made by male dominated committees do not respond to the needs of women.

She revealed this Friday during an engagement meeting with different duty bearers and stakeholders following the rolling out of a two month “Her Seat Equals Change” initiative aimed at increasing women representation in Malengachanzi and Mwadzama Area Development Committees (ADCs) in the district.

“If women were taken on board as decision makers in development structures with a 60 percent representation as stipulated in the Gender Equality Act, most ADCs could have met the needs and aspirations of women, and this is why Umunthu Plus is implementing this project to help them attain the positions”, said Phiri.

Phiri said the initiative will purely implement activities that will empower women to take up decision making positions in ADCs as well as foster a mindset change in communities to realize the significance of women’s participation in such positions.

While commending the initiative, Malengachanzi ADC Chairperson Kennedy Njakama has promised to ensure sustainability of the initiative after phasing out in March this year.

He said, “the initiative is timely as our district is lagging behind in promoting women to attain decision making positions, and as a leader I will take a leading role in advocating for the same even if the project phases out”.

Nkhotakota District Council Gender Officer, Scholar Mwamlima has implored on Umunthu Plus to consider lobbying for more funds from its donor partners, so as to scale up the initiative to all ADCs across the district.

According to a 2021 annual review, only 2 out of 8 ADCs in Nkhotakota district are chaired by women, while 1 among 10 local councilors is a woman and none among the 5 legislators is a woman.

The initiative is being funded by the National Democratic Institute, through the National Endowment for Democracy.

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