Malawi marks Peace Day with call to recognise women’s role in peace

First Lady Madam Prof. Gertrude Mutharika speaking on ensuring next generation lives in peace.

Lilongwe, September 22: Women from diverse backgrounds in Malawi on Thursday, 20th September 2018, commemorated the International Day of Peace, with a call to recognise and enhance women’s contributions in ensuring peace in the country.

Speaking in Lilongwe at the national commemoration, organised by the United Nations in collaboration with Malawi Government and Chancellor College under the theme The Right to Peace, United Nations Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres said it is important to recognise women as peacemakers and peacebuilders because of their unique contributions.

“Women have a unique perspective in achieving peace,” said Torres. “Women in Malawi have been on the frontline in the battle for human rights, gender equality and individual dignity for a very long time, including rights of future generations to live a dignified life in a peaceful environment.”

She said Rose Chibambo, Vera Chirwa and Anastasia Msosa are as some of the female pillars and champions of human rights and sustainable peace in Malawi.

While acknowledging women’s contributions in mediating conflicts and ensuring Malawi’s peaceful transition to democracy, Torres noted that women in the country are still subjected to multiple forms of discrimination and violence, with many having limited space to contribute to decision-making processes aimed at ensuring peaceful co-existence.

She said the current ranking for Malawi on position 171 out of 189 countries on the 2017 Human Development Index and 148 out of 160 countries on the 2017 Gender Inequality Index, show that inequality is still high in the country.

During the commemoration, the women discussed their roles in ensuring inclusive institutions, justice for all and peaceful coexistence.

They also signed the Lilongwe International Peace Day Declaration, which underlined that peace cannot be realised without women’s rights.

In the declaration, the women reaffirmed their commitment to promoting achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 16 and 5 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, respectively, through initiatives that enhance peaceful coexistence and gender equality.

“We recognize the importance of contributing to promotion of inclusive societies that are safe and violent-free spaces for women at all levels of society,” reads the declaration in part. “We pledge using our efforts to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions that will contribute to the creation of a safe and inclusive Malawi for sustainable peace, democracy and development.”

Malawi’s First Lady Madame Gertrude Mutharika said to improve on gender equality and empowerment of women, more girls and women need to be educated and participate in different aspects of life, including in decision-making processes.

“There is mounting evidence that women are powerful actors in sustaining peace in their communities,” said Madame Mutharika. “Research has shown that achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflicts.”

Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Grace Chiumia said government has put in place various laws and policies to address challenges women face when participating in peace and development processes, saying peace is critical for achievement of sustainable development.

The International Day of Peace is observed around the world every year on 21st September, with the aim of strengthening the ideals of peace. During this year’s commemoration, countries joined hands in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the global theme: The Right to PeaceThe Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70.

Participants at the commemoration of the International Day of Peace in a group photo.

Flying of balloons as part of celebrating women’s roles in promoting peace in Malawi.

UN Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres addresses the audience.

First Lady Madame Prof. Gertrude Mutharika signs the Lilongwe International Peace Day Declaration at the commemoration.

Representative of Women in Business Ms. Grace Kalolo signs the Lilongwe International Peace Day Declaration at the commemoration.

Diplomatic Community Representative, Japanese Ambassador Kae Yanagisawa and Faith Community Representative Bishop Rose Mbewe sign the Lilongwe International Peace Day Declaration at the commemoration.

Dr. Ngeyi Kanyongolo of Chancellor College (middle) leading a discussion on inclusive institutions. The panel included Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Hon. Grace Obama Chiumia, Mchinji District Commissioner Ms. Rosemary Nawasha, Commissioner of Police Ms. Effie Kaitano and Senior Chief Madam Theresa Kachindamoto