By Patricia Kapulula, MANA
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha has appealed to stakeholders to join hands to ensure the ills the women face are dealt with in a holistic approach.
The Minister was speaking on Monday at a press briefing in Lilongwe ahead of this year’s commemoration of International Women’s Day to be held on March 5, 2020 in Machinga District, that will tackle issues regarding gender and women empowerment.
She cited ills such as gender-based violence, harmful practices including child marriages, poor access to and control over resources and low participation in various development activities.
Navicha said these need to be addressed holistically by everyone in Malawi, saying the fight can be won if efforts towards the promotion and protection of women’s rights and those of other vulnerable groups are intensified.
She warned that government will take stern measures for any culprits of barbaric and unacceptable behaviour in the society such as abduction and killings of women, men and children with albinism.
“Let me condemn acts of rape and harassment of women and girls which have, of late, been on the increase in this country.”
Navicha, therefore, said the Government is committed to achieving gender equality and women empowerment through the political will by the country’s President Peter Mutharika, who is Global Impact Champion for the He-for-She campaign.
At the 32nd Session of the African Union Assembly, President Mutharika was awarded for his exceptional efforts in gender equality and women empowerment.
“The commitment of the Government of Malawi to the achievement of gender equality and women empowerment cannot be overemphasised as Malawi was the first Member State to sign the Maputo Protocol,” said Navicha.
In order to translate this commitment into action, Malawi has domesticated legal and policy frameworks such as Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act of 2015, Trafficking in Persons Act of 2015, Gender Equality Act of 2013 and Deceased Estates (Wills, Inheritance and Protection) Act of 2010 among others.
An official representing UN Women, Pamela Mkwamba hailed efforts taken by member states in gender and women rights which she said has seen remarkable progress on women rights and leadership.
Mkwamba said this has been noticed in areas such as access to education and maternal health both globally and in Malawi.
However, she said the gains are not deep enough and have been slow for the majority of women and girls.
“Barriers are still holding women’s rights back as multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and in culture.
“Women and girls continue to be undervalued, they work more and earn less and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces.
“UN is, therefore, sparking public mobilisation, demanding accountability and driving actions to advance women’s rights and gender,” she said.
On March 8, every year, the world commemorates International Women’s Day as set aside by the UN in 1975 for all countries to celebrate the contributions that women have and continue to make towards the development of their families, communities and nations.
The day also provides member states the opportunities to reflect on specific problems and challenges that women face in their daily livelihood.
Malawi will commemorate the day on March 5 at Nalundani Ground in Machinga District under the theme ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’, which highlights the need to empower women in all settings both rural and urban areas.
Activities to mark the day will include solidarity walk, women’s parade, traditional dances and exhibitions among others, all to bring into spotlight the thinking on how to create an advocacy platform on gender equality and women empowerment.