MEC urges faith leaders to advocate against hate speech

Lilongwe: Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Wednesday urged all religious leaders to step up and strongly condemn hate speech that most politicians use against women aspiring to participate in politics.

Chief Elections Officer (CEO) for MEC, Sam Alfandika made this recommendation during a National Religious Leaders Conference on Governance Consolidation and Women in Politics held at Mponela in Dowa.

He said Faith Leaders are one of the most influential groups in society and could as well be used to promote women in politics.

“According to a recent conducted research by afro-barometer, we learn that religious leaders largely influence people’s decision making in a society. They are deemed to give out good advices to the masses.

As such, we recommend that they advise political leaders to refrain from using hate speech, especially to women aspiring to participate in politics so as to provide a conducive environment as well as empower the latter at the same time, the MEC CEO said.

Alufandika said to avoid causing conflicts among people, the faith leaders need to preach peace and guide people on the right path and not interfere in politics by openly some favoring candidates based on religion, gender and race.

Apart from religious leaders, he appealed to all political leaders, including Party presidents to advocate for peace and discourage the use of demeaning words towards women aspirants and this would discourage them from contesting.

General Secretary for Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), Bishop Gilford Matonga pledged to preach against the hate speeches and to support the women.

“As the most trusted grouping in this country, we will continuously encourage our followers through our preaching that men and women are all equal before God and so no one should dominate over the other,” he said.

Matonga said that “a woman in politics is a woman created in God’s image and so needs to enjoy her dignity just like any man. As such, we are committed to advocate against hate speech towards women.”

One of the Reverends in attendance, Rev. Agnes Nyirenda of Livingstonia Synod expressed concern over late the timing of the conference when most political parties have already conducted their primaries and some faith leaders have already endorsed their candidates.

The Conference was organized by Act Alliance with funding from UN Women and it was taking place under the theme, Role of the faith leaders in promoting Women’s political participation.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA

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