The Gatekeepers: Political Participation of Women in Malawi
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Original versionBergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Brief vol. 15 no. 12) 4 p.
All over the world, there are gatekeepers with the power to facilitate – or restrict – peoples’ access. We have studied the role of the chairpersons and secretaries of the political parties in Malawi, and their role as gatekeepers for women’s access to political positions. These gatekeepers are largely determining their entry into elected positions and into positions within the party hierarchy, and for many reasons they tend to restrict women’s participation in politics. Authors Happy Mickson Kayuni Associate Professor, Department of Political and Administrative Studies (PAS), Chancellor College, University of Malawi Kondwani Farai Chikadza Lecturer, Department of Political and Administrative Studies (PAS), Chancellor College, University of Malawi We have studied the supply side of women political participation and activism, and identified some of the factors that explain why women decide to run (or not) for political office. In our study on what makes women participate in local politics in Malawi, on what makes women volunteer to stand for elections and seek positions within party structures, we have found that it is partly due to support from spouses and traditional and religious leaders, plus exposure to development projects, NGOs, and local government institutions. The gatekeepers within the parties, however, the people with power within a party, can determine, for the most part, women’s entry into politics. There is a growing interest in factors that contribute to women’s political participation both at the national and the grassroots level. We have studied why women become interested in party politics at the local level in Malawi. The background research is a study we carried out in Mangochi, Chiradzulu and Phalombe districts of Malawi, on the four major political parties (the Democratic Progressive Party DPP, the People’s Party PP, the United Democratic Front UDF and the