Young Women's Political Participation in Malawi

IDRC's Democratic Governance, Women's Rights and Gender Equality initiative is supporting a body of comparative research on whether and how democratic processes and institutions are responding to women's rights and gender equality. The projects under this initiative will investigate issues surrounding women's participation in political decision-making, the judiciary and the public sector, and explore ways in which state institutions, political parties, civil society and kin-based social organizations can be influenced to advance women's choices and entitlements as citizens, including through increased representation.

Rural women the world over experience challenges in their day-to-day lives that are unique to their environment. Where these challenges are similar to those of urban women, they are experienced with a higher degree of hardship. Malawi is predominantly rural and ranks among the world's poorest countries. More than 80% of the women who make up 52% of the country's population are rural and living in poverty. They are also exposed to adverse social, economic and cultural practices that impinge on their right to development. They continue to be underrepresented in positions of power. To date, any research on the subject has concentrated on the national level, justified by the absence of government authorities at the local level.

Recognizing the correlation between poverty, social vulnerability and gender inequality, researchers will investigate how the social, economic, cultural and political situation of rural women in Malawi affects the political participation of young rural women at the local level. They will analyze factors that hinder young women's participation in politics, assess progress made to date, and - with a focus on the upcoming local government elections in 2011- examine how political parties influence the political participation of young women at the grassroots level. They will examine how young women in Parliament representing rural constituencies have promoted the political participation of young women constituents.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

End Date

Friday, August 9, 2013


24 months

IDRC Officer

de Boer, John

Total funding

CA$ 137,500


Malawi, North of Sahara, South of Sahara


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Linda Kabwato


Registered Trustees of the Governance and Development Institute

Institution Country