Catherine Gotani Hara
Malawi’s National Assembly Speaker challenges women to rise up, take space in political, economic spheres

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Gotani Hara has challenged women in the country to rise and take up their spaces in political, social, and economic spheres.

Hara made the call on Saturday when she virtually addressed a three-day African Women in Leadership Conference (AWLC).

“We are living in a world where over 52% are women. We can no longer afford to allow women to remain silent or absent where decisions are made. We strongly need their voices, so that women can occupy their rightful place in society,” she said.

Hara further commended the Parliament of Malawi for making strides in achieving 50-50 representation.

She indicated that women representation in the House has risen from 5% in the 1990s to 23% recently.

According to her, the increase in women representation has led to Parliament enacting bills and policies that favors women and girls including the Divorce and Family Relations Act which raised the marriage age from 15 to 18.

The theme of this year’s AWL meeting is “Inclusive Governance: Women’s Participation in Public and Political Affairs.”

AWLC aims at harnessing and enhancing the leadership potential of women in leadership positions in Africa as a whole and channel them towards the unity and development of the region.

The conference has been organized by the African Women in Leadership Organization (AWLO), a non-profit organization with a membership that is open to all women leaders across Africa.

Gotani hara was first elected Member of Parliament for Mzimba North East in 2009 on Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket. She took a break from politics from 2014 to 2019.

She was re-elected in May 2019 parliamentary elections, representing Malawi Congress Party and on 19 June 2019, she was elected the first female Speaker of the National Assembly, with 97 votes to 93 over former deputy speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje of the former ruling DPP.

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