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Women standing for council seats in Malawi, against the odds

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It's expensive trying to run an election campaigns in Malawi because most potential voters expect contestants to distribute handouts, such as T-Shirts, cialis clothes, pharmacy food and even money as a sign of 'compassion' to their constituents. If they don't, they're deemed 'stingy leaders' and voters shun them. 

The trouble is that most women don't have the same financial resources as men who are generally more educated, employed and own land and other assets, according to this story in IPS news. 

But that hasn't deterred 24-year-old Beauty Kasonda who is campaigning for a local government seat in the forthcoming November 2010 elections. 

"I don’t have money for freebies and so I take advantage of any assembly to coax people into voting for me. My husband is very supportive. He escorts me to the gatherings all the time. We ride on his bicycle," said Kasonda. 

There is some help available for women candidates like Beauty Kasonda. The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, a human rights non-governmental organisation engaged is identifying aspiring female councillors in Malawi and is teaching them skills in election campaigning, among other things.

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