aps in the advancement of women’s rights have caused worry among rights defenders who have called for the need to enhance women’s access to justice and empowerment.
Human rights activist Scader Louis, delivering her keynote speech on Friday at the Pabwalo Town Hall organised by the Gender and Justice Unit (GJU) to assess and highlight citizens’ experiences and evaluations of human rights oversight bodies, called for the need to address the gaps to ensure that women are adequately protected and empowered.
She said spaces such as the Pabwalo Town Hall can also play a crucial role in addressing the gaps in access to justice, thereby improving the accountability and integrity of human rights oversight bodies.
Louis, who recently completed her tenure as Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) chairperson, said: “Despite some achievements, marginalised groups, such as women, persons with albinism, persons with disabilities, female sex workers, and sexual and gender minorities, continue to face various challenges when seeking justice.
“There are inadequate resources allocated to human rights oversight bodies, which limits their capacity to monitor and investigate human rights violations effectively.”
On her part, Just Associates (Jass) Northern Region coordinator Tiwonge Gondwe observed that there is still delayed justice for both women and children; that women still face challenges in land ownership, and accessing human rights bodies such as the Ombudsman and MHRC which mainly operate from cities.
Jass is an international organisation that is building women’s collective power for justice.
In her response, MHRC executive secretary Habiba Osman conceded that with their presence only in Lilongwe and Blantyre, it does sometimes take time for them to reach out to other regions.
GJU executive director Sarai Chisala-Tempelhoff said the Pabwalo Town Hall was an opportunity for marginalised communities to raise their concerns with challenges they face in accessing justice; and for them to hear from duty bearers how their institutions serve Malawians and what more they can do to work with marginalised individuals.
Among the human rights oversight bodies that were present at the Pabwalo Town Hall included MHRC, Malawi Police Service, ACB, Independent Complaints Commission, and the Office of Ombudsman.