29 October 2018:
During a week-long mission to Malawi from 2 – 8 September, UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Dr Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, visited Malawi with the aim of observing UN Women’s operational response at country level and assess how it contributes to the implementation of the country’s national development priorities and plans.
During the mission, the Regional Director had an audience with the Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Hon. Dr Jean Kalilani MP, Development Partners, the UN Country Team and representatives from Civil Society.
She also visited thematic programmes in the field and took part in a UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) meeting, convened by Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) on the engagement of political parties on enhancing the participation of women in politics, in preparation for the 2019 Presidential Tripartite elections. Dr Izeduwa Derex-Briggs remarked “For women, it is their right too to participate in politics. There is also need to seriously address Violence against Women in politics and elections so that women participate in a violence-free environment”.
The Regional Director conducted three field visits. The first visit was on a project for persons with Albinism where she went to see how UN Women is promoting the human rights agenda through the One UN Human Rights Window – Protection of Persons with Albinism project, with support from UK AID in collaboration with the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM).
The Regional Director also visited a project promoting girls rights under the Joint Programme on Girls Education (JPGE) HeForShe initiative, targeting girls rescued from early marriages, with the aim of learning from their experiences and how traditional leaders and communities are working together to end child marriage and other harmful practices in close collaboration with the Ministry of Gender.
The third field visit was with the Women Economic Empowerment program and aimed at appreciating how UN Women is promoting the economic empowerment of girls and women with disabilities. She visited a Honey Production, textile and garment making Cooperatives, who work in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Extensions Services (DAES) and Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA).
During her visit to Malawi, the Regional Director emphasized the importance of transformative gender programming in decision making positions, political participation as well as women’s economic empowerment in the country.
At the end of her trip, the Regional Director reiterated that UN Women will continue to work closely with the government and traditional leaders in ending child marriages through advocacy, lobbying and capacity building of traditional and religious leaders as custodians of culture on gender related laws and behavior change interventions.