Under the mentorship program of the “Women’s Active Participation in Political Leadership and Decision- Making in political parties in Malawi”project funded by Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD), The Centre for Multiparty Democracy organized an exchange visit to Tanzania. The visit offered a refresher training to 2 representatives from each of the following parties: AFORD, DPP, MCP, PP and UDF. The training was from 13 to 15 July, 2016.
CMD solely organised the training for the women in politics in the two countries to share knowledge and experience on how political parties entrench women mentorship processes and how they have advocated for and promoted issues of women inclusion e.g. affirmative action and quota system. The training was also to participate in the organization and role of Women Wings and appreciate how the wings are set up, mobilized, engaged and related to the mother parties, to explore strategies of increasing women representation in Parliament and at council level, and to network and establish relationships with fellow women politicians.
Some of the lessons learnt from the exchange visit were that Tanzania’s party ideologies are different from Malawi’s. Another lesson was that each and every party in Tanzania has seating Members of Parliament and Councillors. The women also learnt that women wings in Tanzania raise their funds by owning infrastructures which are rented out, selling out party materials rather than giving out for free as is the case in Malawi, village community banking, members of parliament making contributions in their parties and every party member is obliged to give a membership fee from the top to the grass root level.
Though Tanzania is advanced in most cases, some common challenges between the countries were that the women fail to contest for leadership positions due to weak financial base, lack of support from society and lack of confidence.
The two groups however came up with recommendations to strengthen the women wings. The first recommendation was that through the National Director of Women, the Malawian women in politics should form a task force that includes female MPs and all NEC members as well as mentors and mentees to have women circus within their parties. They also need to have cross party visits to all political parties to exchange ideas. On economic empowerment, the women recommended establishing Village Savings and Loans in their parties. It was also recommended that elected MPs should come in the open and advocate for gender issues.