Peter Mutharika laments gender disparities


President Peter Mutharika on Monday said despite Malawi making considerable progress in the implementation of various gender-related programmes, his government is still experiencing persistent gender disparities.

Addressing a delegation of the United States (US) Congress women and CARE at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, Mutharika reiterated the abysmal participation of women in decision-making positions in the public service and politics.

Currently, women in the country hold 23 percent of public service positions, 16.5 percent of the 193 seats in the National Assembly and 10.7 percent of seats in the Local Assembly against the target of 50 percent which was being vigorously championed by gender activists and relevant stakeholders ahead of last year’s general elections.


“Maternal mortality rates are at 460 per 100 000 live births against the 2015 target of 150. The percentage of women living below the poverty line is at 51.6 and the prevalence of HIV is higher in women at 12.9 percentage compared to 8.1 percent for men,” Mutharika said.

He added that 33 percent of Malawian women experience intimate partner violence, one in every three girls marries before the age of 18 and that 30 percent of households in Malawi are female-headed.

The President, however, emphasised that his government is making significant efforts to address the disparities through the introduction of universal education, readmission campaign for teen mothers and intensifying literacy classes, among others.


“Let me, therefore, thank CARE for complementing government’s efforts through your programmes. I have noticed that you have taken quite a holistic approach and that our women and girls will be empowered in all areas of life,” said Mutharika.

In an interview after a closed-door session with Mutharika, CARE President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Helen Gayle, said the delegation discussed with the President a number of issues, including women and girls’ empowerment, health, food and nutrition security.

She said after appreciating the developments that Malawi is making in these sectors, the US policymakers can go back and be supportive about the relationship that the US has with the Malawi government.

“The delegation was able to talk about some of the real successes but also some of the challenges and how the US can continue being a partner as Malawi continues to develop economically and looking at this very important issue of empowering girls and women,” she said.

Other officials who were there when the US delegation met Mutharika include US Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer, US Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Gonzalez, CARE Malawi Country Director Michael Rewald and Cabinet ministers Patricia Kaliati and Samuel Tembenu.

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