By Andrew Magombo
Lilongwe, October 15, Mana: Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, on Thursday during commemoration of International Rural Women’s day in Lilongwe, rendered reverence to all Malawi’s former first ladies for their devotion to works of women empowerment.
Kaliati, who also singled out late President Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s former Official hostess, Mama Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira, said she has nothing but admiration for the efforts which were exuded by each of the First Ladies during their tenures.
The minister said fruition of the foundations which were laid by Kadzamila, Annie Muluzi, Patricia Dzimbiri (formerly Muluzi), Ethel Mutharika, Calista Mutharika and Gertrude Mutharika, cannot be undermined in women empowerment circles.
Speaking at the commemoration under the theme: Rural Women and Girls Building Climate Resilience, Kaliati said government is committed to empowering women through implementation of policy frameworks that focus on promoting the empowerment of women and Climate Smart Agriculture.
Some of the policies include the National Gender Policy, National Agricultural Policy, National Plan of Action for Women Economic Empowerment, National Agriculture Invenstment Plan and Malawi National Resilience Strategy among others.
She further implored women holding influential positions in government and Non-Governemental Organisations (NGOs), to exert their authority in uplifting the livelihood of women living in rural areas who face a lot of domestic challenges in the face of climate change.
She said: “We need to focus on supporting women because they are the ones who suffer the most by trying to provide for the families. Households are easily sustained when our women are independent.
“As the celebration coincides with the Mother’s day holiday, I would like to salute all Malawian mothers especially those in rural areas for their relentless efforts on daily basis.
“We need to make sure that our women are provided with basic amenities including water, electricity and, social services and infrastructure.”
During the event, T/A Kabudula asked the minister to consider bankrolling women under her area with business capital which will help jumpstart their businesses.
She further asked for deployment of a female police officer at Nsaru Police Unit as women feel ashamed to report cases at the precinct which only has male officer.
Among other partners of the event, Christian Aid organization said they are pleased to work with government towards transforming the livelihood of women living in rural areas through economic resilience.
Speaking on the sidelines, Yvonne Murindiwa, who is the organisation’s head of programs, said they are already working with women cooperatives in different initiatives mostly food processing some of which were showcased to the minister at the event.
“We have a lot of ongoing poverty eradicating interventions including social cash transfer, provision of loans and food processing machinery for these women as a drive to ensure their economic independence in the face of adverse effects of climate change,” she said.
The International Rural Women’s Day was launched in 1995 during the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, and it is commemorated annually on 15 October. The commemoration recognizes the role women play in improving rural development and food security.