A critical analysis of women participation in the law reform process: A case of the Law Commission in Malawi
Chavula, Eddah Edayi
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The writer, a law reformer, uses her eight years’ experience in conducting law reform to interrogate the law reform process with regard to women participation in the process. This dissertation explores the extent to which women have participated in the law reform process in Malawi compared to their male counterparts in view of the right to equality and non-discrimination as well as the right to dignity which recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of each human being enshrined under sections 19 and 20 of the Constitution and other international human rights instruments. The writer briefly discusses the establishment of the Commission, its mandate and functions, the law reform process to contextualize the study and contemporary debates on law reform give insights into what law reform is about and ought to be. Using methodologies such as the Grounded theory and the dung beetle within the Grounded theory, the Women’s Law Approach, sex and gender analysis, actors and structures and the human rights approach the study reveals the interplay of gender in the law reform process. Data collection methods including FGD, key informants, in-depth interviews, participant observations and desk research were used. She shows law reforms’ failure to tap from women’s lived realities and experience in order to adequately address women’s issues and concerns throughout the law reform process. The study finds that more men than women participate in the law reform process. Participation in the law reform process is gendered since the majority of law reform programmes are dominated by men while only six of them are dominated by women. Also, finds that there are inadequate guidelines to ensure gender equality. Further, that gender neutral laws discriminates against women as it uses the male norm to which women must conform to, for them to benefit from the laws. It reveals dichotomies in participation in the law reform process. It unearths hidden, visible and invisible powers that have an effect on women’s participation as well as identify barriers to women participation in the law reform process.