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Abstract

Vibrant women’s interest groups are to a larger extent a recent phenomenon in Malawi’s socio-political history. Locally and internationally, the contribution of voluntary organisations (including women interests groups) in actively creating possible spaces for new democratic practices is well acknowledged. However studies have not adequately analyzed the extent or degree of the internal democracy in these women interests groups. Furthermore, studies that examines the implication of the absence or presence of internal democracy in such groups is largely missing. Consequently, this paper aims at analyzing the state of internal democracy in Malawian women’s interest groups. In addition, the paper examines whether the formal and informal relationships within these organizations anchor the democratic values in tandem with the prevalent political space. Taking a qualitative approach, the analysis combines the use of primary and secondary data. Secondary data was collected through literature review of various kinds of documents such as organizations constitutions, mission statements, background information and reports. Primary data was collected through field interviews with women and men in women-led organizations. Sampling from a pool of organizations under the umbrella body, Gender NGO Coordination Network, organizations headed by women were purposely selected for the study on which this paper is based. The study findings show that the sampled women’s interest groups in Malawi are inclined towards democratic structures but have operationally limited democratic practice.

Note on the Author

Happy Mickson Kayuni is a PhD Candidate Political Studies Dept University of Western Cape.

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