Malawi Launches MAF-Action Plan

Mar 22, 2013

Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Ms. Anita kalinde launching the MAF Action Plan document at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe. Photo: UNDP Malawi.

UNDP and the Government of Malawi though the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare with support by UN Women, Oxfam and UNFPA) launched the Millennium Development Goals Acceleration Framework (MAF) Action Plan and White paper at the Bingu Conference Centre (Lilongwe) on 22 March, 2013. The two documents were launched by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare Ms. Anita Kalinde and the then UNDP Acting Resident Representative, Ms. Naomi Kitahara.

The MAF Action Plan provides a systematic way for countries to develop their own action plan based on existing plans and processes to pursue their MDG priorities. It also helps governments to focus on disparities and inequalities, two of the major causes of uneven progress, by particularly responding to the needs of the vulnerable.

According to the latest MDG Progress Report on Malawi (2012), Malawi has got mixed results in terms of progress in achieving MDGs. She is on course to achieve possibly half of the eight millennium development goals and these are reducing child mortality (MDG 4); combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6); ensuring environmental sustainability (MDG 7); and developing global partnership for development (MDG 8).  An explanation of achievements in brief is given in the following sections.

The country has not achieved as much on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1); achieving universal primary education (MDG 2); promoting gender equity and women empowerment (MDG 3); and improving maternal health (MDG 5).  The country’s poverty head count (key indicator for MDG 1) ha on marginally decreased from 53.9 percent in 2000 to, twelve years later, 50.7 percent in 2012 according (NSO – IHS3). The poverty level remains high despite average GDP growth rates of 7 percent and food surpluses registered over the last six years or more. This implies that the high economic growth rates were not adequately inclusive; the benefits did not trickle down to the majority poor.

As such, the MAF Action Plan for Malawi provides a list of interventions and their costs on MDG 3 that Government, her development partners and other stakeholders will implemented between now and 2015.  The Plan was developed through consultation and bottleneck analysis (the MAF methodology).  The Action Plan has four main intervention areas and proposes a scale-up budget of around US$ 6.0 million with interventions both at the national and community level in many parts of the country. 

The four intervention areas are: improving girl child school attendance and retention; improving the economic status of women; promoting women in decision making; and reducing gender-based violence.  All these four intervention areas have a gender dimension and it has been reasoned that the stated interventions will have the most multiplier effects on the other lagging MDGs with the girl child as the entry point.

As the document’s foreword reads: “The Action Plan shows that giving the girl child all round life skills has got many immediate and long term benefits that would contribute to the achievements of the socio-economic development goals and the other lagging MDGs. For example, if a country achieves the MDG target on gender equality in education, it will be better positioned to progress toward the hunger target in MDG 1 and toward the child and maternal mortality goals (MDG 4 and 5).  Educated women and girls are in a better position to make informed choices about family planning, nutrition and health and their professional careers. Simple investments such as improving sanitation in schools and providing uniforms for girls can go a long way to improve female school attendance and reduce drop-out rates.”

As such, Ms. Kithara appealed to all parties concerned with implementing the MAF Action Plan to mainstream gender in all their sectoral plans and programmes.

Said Ms. Kitahara: “It is our expectation that as various sectors implement the MAF Action Plan, gender will be mainstreamed in all sectoral plans and programmes. The priority sectoral intervention areas covered in the MAF Action Plan include education; economic development; business and finance; politics and decision-making; and gender-based violence.  This calls for the Education Sector-Working Group; Agriculture Sector Working Group; Industry, Trade Private Sector Working Group; Governance Sector Working Group and Gender & Youth Sector Working Group to ensure efficient coordinating of the implementation and reporting of the identified priority interventions.”

Gender inequality continues to be a major challenge for the country (MDG 3). The gap between women and men continue to widen in many spheres of life owing to differences between the two sexes especially in terms of education and cultural upbringing. However, from 2000 to 2008, the ratio of literate women to men improved from 0.82 to 0.95.  Currently, the ratio of girls to boys in primary school is 1.02 and this would be surpassed by 2015.  The ratio of girls to boys in secondary school is at 0.84, implying that the gender parity in aggregate terms may be achieved at primary education level but not at secondary level and beyond.

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