The United Nations (UN) Women Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality says Malawi is on the right track in demonstrating commitment towards empowering women and young girls through elimination of all forms of violence directed at them.
Executive Director for UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said this Tuesday evening during a HeForShe gala dinner held at Sofitel Hotel in New York.
Ngcuka said the revision for the legal marriage age from 16 to 18 years old by the Malawi government has helped in reducing child marriages in the country.
“More than 3500 child marriages have been cancelled because the leadership under Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika implemented one of the HeForShe commitments for women and girl-child empowerment,” she said.
The HeForShe solidarity movement is a UN women initiative in providing a systematic approach that aims at having a targeted platform where a global audience could be engaged and become change agents for the achievement of gender equality in society.
Ngcuka said the interventions Malawi is carrying out in promoting gender equality are vital in transforming the world so that a girl child can live the life she wants.
The UN women leader cited the case of Malawian female police officers who went on peace keeping mission three years ago in Sudan as a huge leap in changing the mindset of society towards women and girl children.
“These Malawian officers inspired many girls in Sudan. They visited communities and taught women about nutrition and maternal health.
“They inspired girls in many communities to pursue their dream careers. The Sudanese government requested for their long stay in the country because of their positive impact on lives of Sudanese women and girls,” Ngcuka said.
While acknowledging the progress of gender equality in many sectors, she said inadequate female personnel in the military service remain a huge challenge.
Only 13 percent of troops to peace keeping missions in Africa are women, according to the UN women body.
The organisation is using several approaches in mobilising stakeholders in the empowerment of a girl child. Apart from engaging stakeholders through capacity building in advancing gender equality issues, the UN women body is engaging key influential people as focal impact champions in the “HeForShe” initiative.
The President of Malawi Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika attended the gala dinner as one of the HeForShe champions in Africa.
Speaking earlier, President Mutharika said Malawi has intensified mainstreaming of gender equality in all sectors.
He cited the composition of commissioners at the Malawi Electoral Commission, which he said has five female commissioners out of the total nine and is being headed by a woman. But he was quick to point out that challenges still exist especially in politics.
“There is still low female participation and the number of female legislators has been declining over the years,” Mutharika noted.
The president said his government is planning a deliberate approach of boosting female participation and aspirations in politics.
“In the next elections, we will reserve one constituency for a woman in all the 28 districts. The challenge is, will the Malawian society go beyond that and elect more women into parliamentary seats?” wondered Mutharika.
At this year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York, the UN Women body is leaving no stone unturned in wooing influential leaders in public and private sector to commit to gender equality through the HeForShe initiative.
The initiative was launched on 20 September, 2014 by former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon. (By Macneil Kalowekamo, Mana)