Lawmakers in Malawi on Wednesday elected a female member of parliament as speaker for the first time in history of the Southeast African nation, ONAreports quoting Anadolu Agency.
Catherine Gotani Hara from the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) amassed 97 votes against 93 of Esther Mcheka Chilenje of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The 193-seat parliament was dissolved in March this year ahead of fresh elections on May 21.
“The victory of Hara as first-ever female speaker of parliament is what every Malawian hoped for. Her election should encourage women that if you invest in girls, they can also become leaders,” Eisenhower Mkaka, MCP lawmaker and party spokesperson, told a local station Zodiak after announcement of the voting results.
Viwemi Chavula, team leader of the 50-50 campaign, a consortium of civil rights group which campaigns for 50% representation of women in public offices, has described the election of Hara as a milestone for Malawi.
“It has been our aim to increase women’s representation in leadership and decision making positions. The election of the first female speaker of parliament is a huge achievement for Malawi,” Chavula told Anadolu Agency.
Hara served on several ministerial positions including that of health and gender under Malawi’s first women president Joyce Banda.