"I am going to stand for election as president this year. In the past women were not standing because of intolerance from men who are scared of women and want to stop them from participating in politics"
- Edith Nawakwi
"As women we have taken ourselves into the political arena but the challenge is the adoption process. On adoption, most political parties don’t pick women because we do not have financial muscle. Women are just taken as dancers for male politicians but we want to contribute as well, as MPs or councillors. As you know, men are usually the ones picking candidates, hence women are usually disadvantaged. Because of the greediness of the men, we are not attaining the 50-50 gender representation. It will take long for women and men to have equal representation in parliament because of this greediness among our men"
- Elizabeth Phiri
From this recent IPS article. I recently touched on this issue here. Ms Phiri is closer to the truth than the hapless Nawakwi. Men cannot be scared of women politicians because men on average have more financial resources than women. But Ms Phiri is also not quite there.
There are only two possible reasons why we don't have enough women MPs. Either society does not value them, for whatever reason, so it does not currently demand them. Or society values them but they are structurally prevented them from doing so. I think the answer lies somewhere in between. Ms Phiri is right that the lack of resources structurally prevents women from taking part, but I think we would also be right to note that society is signalling that it does not quite think women are currently up to bar. Why? Because not all contests are down to money, but even if it was down to money, if society valued women enough it would do what it can to pool resources to ensure they get through. So we value our women in different spheres of life, but at present not enough to want to see them occupy many seats. That does not mean we do nothing about it, but it does at least help us see the real problem!