Malawi has a lot of work to do and should engage women to attain peace, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Jean Kalilani said on Friday.
Kalilani was speaking in Lilongwe when she opened the National Women in Peace Conference.
She said although Malawi was famed as a peaceful nation with no record of civil strife or war, the country could not boast of having peace with its escalating numbers of gender-based violence (GBV), child molestation and maternal mortality rates, which “are mostly due to teenage pregnancies.”
“According to a National Statistics Office GBV survey report, 130, 000 women experienced domestic violence, of whom 40 per cent have experienced GBV while 30 per cent have experienced physical violence,” Kalilani said.
She said extensively engaging women in pro-peace policies would help in bringing about effective results.
UN Resident Coordinator, Mia Seppo, who was present at the function, commended President Peter Mutharika and Malawians for recognizing women by appointing them as leaders in decision-making institutions, including the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and Parliament.
Seppo said that women had been appointed to positions that were critical to peace and development not as guests, but rather because they had a proven track record of competency that would help Malawi to develop.
She said women had what she called natural power of urgency and that they were quick to react. She said women ought to be given decision-making positions at peace negotiation discussions.
The conference, which is the first of its kind, is being held under the theme ‘Establishing Women’s Participation in Peace Building: Establishing an Effective Network’.