The United Nations (UN) has hailed Malawi for enacting positive policies and laws aimed at promoting women in the country.
Speaking during International Women’s Day (IWD) commemorations at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) in Lilongwe yesterday, UN resident representative Maria Jose Torres Macho commended Malawi for enacting the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act, the Gender Equality Act and raising of the minimum marriage age from 15 to 18, among other achievements.
She said: “The United Nations will continue pushing the gender parity agenda through 2030, by which time the Sustainable Development Goals are to have been achieved.”
Torres Macho also highlighted the challenges that women still face, saying over 50 percent of urban women and girls in developing countries lack basic needs such as clean water, improved sanitation facilities and durable housing.
“Across all regions, women are more likely to live in extreme poverty than men. This gender gap is as high as 22 percent for the 25-34 age group—women’s peak reproductive years, starkly highlighting the dilemma so many of them face in reconciling income with care—for which policy change and action is needed,” she said.
In her remarks, First Lady Gertrude Mutharika, who was guest of honour, appealed to women to join hands in the promotion and protection of girls’ and women’s rights.
“Let us promote each other. This is not time for pulling each other down or backbiting. Time is now to stop being jealous or competing with an aim of overcoming fellow women’s success. Instead, lets pray for one another,” she said.
The First Lady also spoke strongly against girls’ exploitation, saying it hinders their advancement in education.
“I am saddened with reports that many girls continue to be sexually abused and exploited. It is time to stop that,” Mutharika said.
Non-Governmental Organisations Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) chairperson Emma Kaliya concurred with Mutharika, urging women to increase efforts to protect their rights as they are still lagging behind in many areas of development.
This year’s IWD was held under the theme Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming girls and women’s lives.