11 July 2019
In preparation for the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and Adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Malawi Government presented its report of progress towards gender equality to UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Dr. Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, on June 26.
The Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare presented the report to Derex-Briggs at a ceremony in Lilongwe. The UN Women Regional Director visited Malawi from 25th to 26th June this year to appreciate the country’s strides in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Speaking at the presentation, Derex-Briggs said the UN will continue to support the Malawi Government to promote gender equality both globally and regionally. While applauding recent progress in Malawi, she challenged national authorities to assess whether implemented strategies were addressing the root causes of the problem, adding that women are still not living up to their full potential.
Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Hon. Grace Kwelepeta, said the Malawi Government is committed to ending gender-based violence (GBV) and ensuring gender equality. She added that there will be a special focus on quality education for girls to expedite progress.
During the report presentation, the Gender Ministry provided an overview of Malawi’s commitment to the Beijing Declaration and discussed achievements concerning gender equality since the last report was presented in 2015. It also highlighted progress through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a notable strengthening of the legal and policy framework to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from a gender equality perspective.
One of the major achievements in Malawi has been the alignment of the previously conflicting definitions of a child in the Malawi Constitution with the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act, which resulted in the subsequent development of a National Strategy on Ending Child Marriages (2018-2023).
In addition, the Gender Ministry also presented Malawi’s progress on women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls (VAWG), and political participation of women.
Despite positive strides, the government noted that ongoing challenges include negative social norms, discriminatory practices, economic inequality, inconsistent political action, and limited responsive planning and budgeting.
The UN Resident Coordinator, represented by UN Women, reiterated the continuous support by the UN system in supporting the Malawi Government in its efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.