By Memory Chatonda
BLANTYRE, NOV 15, MANA: Malawi’s First lady Monica Chakwera has called for African First Ladies to advance efforts to empower women with infertility and also support girls’ education in their respective countries.
The first lady made the call on Tuesday when she joined her fellow First Ladies in attending this year’s Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary conference at Al Habtoor city in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Chakwera observed that for Africa to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, women and girls must be protected, educated, empowered and be in good health.
She said it is for this reason that since she became Ambassador of Merck Foundation ‘More Than a Mother campaign’ in 2020, she has worked closely with Merck Foundation to define right strategies to build health care capacity, empower infertile women and support girls education in Malawi.
“Through Empowering Berna Initiative, I am working closely with the government of Malawi to break stigma around infertile women and also ensure that they have access to information, education, health and change of mindset.
“In addition, infertile women have also been assisted to establish their own small businesses so that they can be financially independent,” she said.
Chakwera also said through Educating Linda programme, her office has sponsored about 60 best performing girls in secondary school in Malawi until they graduate.
The Merck Foundation Ambassador further added that with long term partnership with Merck Foundation, a number of young and deserving Malawian doctors and nurses have been awarded with scholarships to be trained in different medical specialities.
“These include Fertility and Embryology, Diabetes, Endocrinology, Oncology, Internal Medicine, Sexual and Reproductive Medicines, Respiratory Care and Acute Care among others,” she said.
In her remarks, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation-Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej commended the first ladies for implementing different programmes to support women with infertility and girls education in their respective countries and Africa at large.
The two day Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary conference is being held under the theme ‘together we make a difference’.
African First Ladies from about 15 countries attended the conference.