Chapter review by Sainala Kalebe
Chapter 11 – 50-50 Campaigns- Lessons from 10 years of promotion of gender equality and women’s representation in Parliament, by Asiyati Lorraine Chiweza (pp. 256 – 281)
This chapter comprehensively lays out the problem of poor descriptive representation of women in parliament in Malawi. It provides a historical background of events and the actors that were involved in the cause of increasing women’s representation in parliament during the times of Dr. Kamuzu Banda up to the 2019 elections. The 50-50 campaign is put within this context and its interventions are very well explained.
The author arrives at the conclusion that the 50-50 campaigns were not a success since women’s representation in parliament did not increase and, in fact, decreased in one of the elections that happened after the campaign began. They attribute this pattern to the kind of interventions that were undertaken during the campaigns, which mostly had to do with campaign financing and strategy matters. According to the author, these campaigns did not address the structural forces and limitations that impede women’s participation. The chapter, however, does not detail any positive lessons from the 50-50 campaigns. There could be some value in assessing whether there are some things done under the 50-50 campaigns that are worth maintaining while moving on to address the structural forces and limitations that women face in contesting for elected office.