Malawi launches 2016 African Human Development Report

Dec 1, 2016

Secretary for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Dr. Mary Shawa (centre), UNDP Portfolio Manager, Agnes Chimbiri (left) and Head of Programmes at UNWomen, Ms. Pamela Mkwamba discuss the report

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with Ministry of Gender and Children Disability and Social Welfare on Friday, 25th November 2016 launched the 2016 African Human Development Report (AfHDR) entitled Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa.

The Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Honourable Dr. Jean Kalilani, MP. launched the report together with the National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence locally commemorated this year under the theme: from peace in home to peace in the community: make education safe for all:

In her remarks to participants drawn from private sector, government departments, civil society, the UN and media, Honourable Dr Kalilani called on all actors to play their rightful role to end all forms of violence against women and girls in Malawi, saying; “enough is enough”.

“To the chiefs as custodians of culture, let us make sure that some of our cultural and traditional beliefs and practices that impinge on the rights of women and girls are completely eliminated from our society. Let us not practice them under the ground,” said Honourable Dr. Kalilani.

The UNDP Resident Representative in Malawi, Ms. Mia Seppo, said the report reveals gender disparities in the social and economic space in Malawi and requires attention in the national development agenda and policy formulation.

“The findings in the report need to trigger policy debate and discussion on what further steps are needed to ensure that gender equality is more fully integrated into Malawi’s national agenda and on-going policy dialogue.

As part of the launch of the report, UNDP and Ministry of Gender Children, Disability and Social Welfare organized a panel discussion to discuss the role of appropriate policies and legal reforms in ensuring equal opportunities whilst placing gender equality at the center of Malawi’s development agenda.

The panelists comprising the Secretary for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Dr. Mary Shawa, UNDP Portfolio Manager, Dr. Agnes Chimbiri and Head of Programmes at UNWomen, Ms. Pamela Mkwamba also discussed mechanisms that address national capacity gaps in promoting participation and leadership of women in decision making in the home and society. The panelists discussed innovative ways to support women in gaining ownership and management of economic and environmental assets. Participants finally agreed to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment in Malawi by strengthening gender and education movements; advocating for Compulsory Education Act; Institutionalizing by-laws; and Localizing Gender Equality Seal Certification Awards.

The 2016 AfHDR brings to light some gender disparities in Malawi. For instance, in Malawi only 3% of Malawian women are registered land owners of commercial land yet they constitute 70% of the total workforce. In terms of leadership in the public and private sectors, only 14% of Malawi firms had women at top management level in 2014 and only 17% of members of parliament are female, below the 30% target set by the Beijing Platform for Action.

In addition, about 93% of women’s total labour in Malawi is unpaid and 46% of girls marry before the age of 18, thereby limiting their lifelong opportunities.

The 2016 AfHDR follows the 2012 Africa Human Development Report, which looked at the importance of assuring food security for all Africans. The 2016 AfHDR reviews on-going efforts by African Governments to accelerate the pace of assuring women’s empowerment through all spheres of society-in the home and community, workplace, and in political participation and leadership.

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