UNDP's support for the elections in Malawi
Voters in Malawi headed to the polls on Tuesday, fifty years after the country’s independence. Over 7.4 million people were registered to vote, a 16 percent increase from the elections in 2009, and according to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), the majority were women.
Miriam Kwanjo was one of those registered voters. She sells firewood at ‘Area 25’ market: “I am 56 years old and this will be the first time I am going to vote. In the past, no one ever clearly explained to me why I needed to vote. I felt that standing on the queue the whole day was just a waste of my time. This year, I have had a chance of listening to the candidates as well as getting information through the radio and I know it is my right to vote.”
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implemented an electoral cycle support project, designed to support and strengthen the capacities of the Malawi Electoral Commission to plan, conduct and supervise credible, free and fair elections. MECS was also mandated to ensure broad inclusiveness and informed participation among electoral stakeholders, including voters, candidates and the media.
Ensure a strong female electoral participation
In order to promote a 50 percent female representation in decision making positions in the country, Malawi embarked on a 50:50 campaign, led by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare.
Almost 700 women who were participating in the elections as either Members of Parliament or councilors have benefited from the trainings and the IEC materials, provided to support their campaigns.
The project promoted other electoral reforms, in line with the MEC’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. One such reform is the creation of a basket fund through which development partners provided financial resources to support the electoral process and impending elections in Malawi.
Approximately 18 million US Dollars were budgeted under the basket fund, with contributions from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID), the European Union, Ireland, Norway, Japan through the Government of Malawi and UNDP. This constituted about 40 percent of the entire elections budget.