President Lazarus Chakwera Thursday said his administration will continue promoting gender equality, which he cited as key to the improvement of women’s socio-economic development status.
Chakwera said this during the opening of the first Generation Equality Conference at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
He said, on the campaign trail in the run up to the June 23 2020 presidential election, he pledged to promote, expand and protect the civic space for feminists’ action while ensuring meaningful participation of girls and women in national development endeavours.
“I pledged to increase women’s economic empowerment by transforming the care economy; expand decent work and employment in formal and informal economies; increase women’s access to, and control over, productive resources and, lastly, to promote gender-transformative economies and fiscal stimulus,” Chakwera said.
The President said the government had already made progress on the issue of supporting women by, among other things, removing Value Added Tax on sanitary pads and ending institutional gender inequalities at the highest level of government through appointments at, for instance, the Judiciary and foreign missions.
“And I will do everything I can to champion the election of women to no less than half of the seats in Parliament during the next election,” he said.
Malawi is a leader under the coalition of Feminist Movement and Leadership under the Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality together with Canada and the Netherlands.
Former president Joyce Banda, who is also the chairperson for Women’s Empowerment and Development Africa- Asia, said the conference would facilitate meaningful conversation between the old and young generation on issues of gender equality.
“We have created a safe space for young women and girls to participate and discuss their challenges and, more importantly, join the feminist movement. Young people are agents of change. Let us work with them, let us support them and, more importantly, let us give them space at the decision-making table,” Banda said.
Former president of the Republic of Liberia and Patron of African Leaders Network, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said, since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1985, some of the barriers to girls and women’s empowerment had been broken.
“But we cannot stop, as this progress towards equity and justice is still hampered by the continuing practices of stereotyping, patriarchy. So, our focus continues to be on equity and justice. The Covid pandemic has also been challenging for women,” she said.
The conference has brought together former female heads of State from four countries, of Zimbabwe, Libera, Central African Republic and high profile persons from international organisations.