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Government, UN challenge Unima on gender policy

Government and the United Nations (UN) have challenged the University of Malawi (Unima) to translate its gender policy into action and not turning it into another document for the shelf.

Both Secretary for Gender Mary Shawa and UN women representative, Clara Anyangwe, said making a policy is one thing but implementing it is what matters.

Unima is currently doing national consultations on its gender equality policy which, among others, seeks to give equal tertiary education opportunities for both females and males.

The government and the UN are providing finances for the policy and expect positive returns from their investment.

Shawa said the government and the UN are keen to see how Unima implements the policy and there will be a clear monitoring tool for the implementation.

“We are looking forward to seeing Unima increasing access to education for our girls and women. Our target is to achieve 50:50 selection and that can be achieved if Unima implements this policy.

“We know that Unima has achieved over 40 [percent] in terms of women selection which is good if we look at what the majority of these offices have achieved. Most of these offices, including government are only at 24 [percent] which is too low,” Shawa said.

She also said Unima is supposed to ensure that the gender policy targets all the people working in the university.

Anyangwe said Malawi should not afford to miss the gender targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after failing to achieve four Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) all of which had a gender connotation.

“Providing equal opportunities for all will improve the economy,” Anyangwe told delegates to the policy validation workshop in Lilongwe yesterday.

Unima Vice Chancellor John Saka said the university will come up with a committee which will oversee the implementation and provide quick solutions where necessary.

Saka said the development of the policy which is near completion and will soon be submitted to the university senate and council for consideration and approval will ensure that all deserving Malawians are given a chance to study in the university irrespective of their sex.

“It is easy for us to reach 50:50 selection as we are already at 48:50. We will ensure that all the people within the university own the policy for us to achieve maximum results,” Saka said.

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