Woman President Shows Malawi the Way

Malawi’s President Joyce Banda
Malawi’s President Joyce Banda says women must be empowered and have to be actively involved in all decisions related to their health and well being. Image: Katie C. Lin/IPS

LILONGWE, Aug 3 2013 (IPS) – Malawi’s President Joyce Banda knows a thing or two about women’s empowerment. After all she is the first female southern African head of state.

But she has not had it easy. Banda had a tough job fixing a sputtering economy after taking over from her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office on Apr. 5, 2012. In 2011 the country witnessed nationwide protests against Mutharika and the failing economy. The United Kingdom, Malawi’s largest donor, had suspended 550 million dollars in aid after Mutharika expelled its ambassador for calling him an autocrat.

But she did succeed. Since taking office she has implemented of a number of austerity measures, which included selling the country’s presidential jet for 15 million dollars and taking a 30 percent cut in her salary. She also embarked on a range of reforms that not everyone has agreed with. The most controversial has been cultivating closer ties with international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which is known for its heavy-handed austerity plans . . .

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