Chapter review by Sainala Kalebe
Chapter 6 -Violence against Women in Elections in Malawi: The Role of Women Leaders as Game Changers, by Anthony Jeckson Malunga, Ngcimezile Mbano-Mweso and Bernadette Wangisa Malunga (pp. 150 – 170)
This chapter puts a sobering perspective on the prevalence of violence against women at elections, particularly in the 2019 tripartite elections in Malawi. It highlights the opportunities for women leaders to be game-changers in bringing this vice to an end. The 2019 elections saw some of the most horrendous acts of violence against women that rightly deserve scholarly attention, and this chapter does that so well. The women leaders in the study are drawn from women in political leadership, civil society activists, and the women leading in constitutional bodies. It is a well-written chapter for all readers who would like to get some perspectives on the role of women leaders in making a difference in eliminating political violence.
The findings of the study, unsurprisingly, show that the only group of women that made a positive impact as game changers were the women in civil society. Those in political leadership and leading in constitutional bodies found themselves constrained from action by various institutions. “Women leaders may be limited in their game-changing role by formal and informal institutions that shape and constrain actor’s behavior…,” the authors say. This makes the reader question whether, if at all, women leaders alone can be game-changers in the face of these powerful institutions around the presence of women in the political arena.