The Building A Better Democratic Dialogue project, funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by the Active Learning Centre and the Women’s Legal Resources Centre, in partnership with the Women’s Caucus, came directly from discussions with the Ministry of Gender and others following Malawi’s 2009 elections, where 43 (22 per cent) women MPs were elected.
It was agreed that there was a need for regular consultation with women to better understand their situation and develop appropriate policy responses, and that there needed to be a response to the widely held expectation the women in parliament would ‘make a difference’.
The project’s primary purpose was to help the Women’s Caucus take the appropriate political action based on evidence they had gathered from women across Malawi – democracy in action. It was also hoped the project would help women MPs tackle the entrenched tradition of MPs treating, but not consulting, and women singing praises, but not asking questions.
In September 2011, the Women’s Caucus responded to the evidence gathered across Malawi by prioritising the challenges faced by their constituents. They set up four cross-party working groups to drive forward these concerns:
- Securing sustainable access to clean water
- Better access for poorer women to micro-loans and small business support
- Better reproductive health for all women and girls
- Securing gender equality in political representation
The MPs used parliamentary debates, party meetings, the media, and discussions with government officials and development partners at a local and national level, to lobby for action. The passing of the Gender Equality Bill in February 2013 covered some of their task force concerns, particularly in relation to reproductive health and equal opportunities.
The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Malawi: Project report – download here [2.36MB]
MPs in their constituencies: Case studies – download here [211kB]
Women in the Malawi Parliament: A handbook – download here [3.03MB]
The effectiveness of cross-party parliamentary caucuses – download here [196kB]