First Lady Madame Professor Gertrude Mutharika has underscored the need to promote gender equality and women empowerment in peace building processes in order to ensure meaningful achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Madame Mutharika made the call, which is in line with SDG number five and number 16, in Lilongwe on Thursday during commemoration of the International Day of Peace.
SDG number five and 16 calls for the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls and promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development respectively.
She observed that sustainable and equitable socio-economic and political development is and will be a far-fetched dream if women are missing in peace negotiations at all levels.
Research has shown that achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflict which correlates with high rates of violence against women.
“Let us all join hands in uplifting women and the time is now. Now is the time to address factors that stand in the way for gender equality,” said Madame Mutharika.
The First Lady supports calls for improvement in gender equality and empowerment of women saying her wish is to see women transformed into active players in peace initiatives.
She said such a transformation would only be achieved if there is political will in peace processes. As such the First Lady made a commitment that her office would work hard to ensure that there is real transformation in peace building processes.
“As we commemorate this day, I commit that my office will continue to champion the principles of gender equality to ensure that women have equal access to opportunities in decision making regarding peace building,” she said.’
She also acknowledged the gender equality commitments that Malawi has made and the role that Ministry of Gender has made in spearheading the gender milestone that include the passing of critical gender legislation such as the Gender Equality Act, Marriage and Divorce Act among others.
United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres observed that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business and the greatest human rights challenge of our time.
She expressed concern that despite women in Malawi being in the front line in the battle for human rights, gender equality and individual dignity for a very long time, inequality is still very high in Malawi.
The country ranks 148 out of 160 countries in the 2017 index on gender inequality while the Human Development Index ranks Malawi 171 out of the 189 countries.
The International Day of Peace which was devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, is observed around the world on 21st September.
It gives an opportunity to reflect on roles of individuals, communities, organizations and nations in contributing towards peaceful societies.
This year’s International Day of Peace commemoration has seen countries joining hands in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human Rights.
In Malawi the day was commemorated through observing Women’s Rights.
In partnership with the Malawi government and other stakeholders, the UN brought together high level women in politics, business, faith, public service, in uniform, in academia, law, in media and senior female citizens among others to discuss initiatives that they implement to ensure peace in their communities.
The women made a declaration on what they will do to promote peace and ensure tolerance, harmony and coherence during and after elections in order to sustain Malawi’s peace, democracy and development.