There was something unnerving at the PAC Indaba, that was supposedly “all inclusive”. As we have all seen in the media from the photos, the lists of participants and the quotes: there was nothing like gender balance. (the only prominent women were Kabwila and Kaliati) Religious institutions like PAC tend to have this problem. The Catholic church and Islam ban women from decision making posts categorically, but all other faiths suffer from the same bias against women.
So the conference was not inclusive in terms of gender balance, while the (slight) majority of Malawians are female.
But what about other balance: age for instance. I need to confess I did not check the age of every participant, but from the ones we know and the photos we can see that the large majority were old. While the Malawian population is overwhelmingly young (80% under 30 years) at the PAC conference the very old were clearly in a majority.
If we look at income, we know that the participants were all without exception drawn from the rich, the ruling class. That is again against the grain of Malawian society: 85% of Malawians live below the poverty line. So it was far from inclusive in that area also.
I do not need to stress the rural/urban divide: it is the same story.
This conference was far from all inclusive. It was very exclusive, excluding the large, large, large majority of the population. And then the Honourable Ken Msonda manages to claim he is representing the people!
What we need is a conference where the ruling elite is put in the hot seat. Where the participation reflects the population of Malawi.
- Gender balance: 51 female, 49 male
- Income and possessions: 2 rich, 13 middle class, 85 poor
- Age: 80 under 30 years, 15 between 30 and 60, and 5 over 60
And then demand that the government delegates explain the gap in their wealth against the wealth of the participants. Their access to health care. Their access to education. Their access to clean water and sanitation. Their access to security. You name, it can be discussed. And the conference will come with recommendations for the redistribution of knowledge (education), power (influential positions) and income (money)!
That is all inclusive. This PAC Indaba was exclusively male, exclusively rich, exclusively urban, exclusively powerful, exclusively old. This Indaba does not contribute to the solutions we, the people, need!