First Lady launches 16 days of activism against GBV

First Lady Monica Chakwera on Thursday launched this year’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV), with a call for more awareness on the vice targeting “people who have not yet received the message.”

The launch took place at Chiwaza Ground in Nkhata Bay and was organized and funded by a consortium of like-minded non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs) and development partners, led by the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare.

First Lady launching the 16 days of activism, pic by Gracian Jeke-Mana

The event kick-started 16 days of awareness and sensitization campaign by government, NGOs and CSOs against GBV.

Chakwera said this year’s 16 days of activism against GBV, which marks the 30th anniversary of the widely acclaimed global campaign, must be a point of “further amplifying the fight against GBV.”

She said there is “a lot of work and goodwill” from NGOs, CSOs and development partners to fight GBV, which the nation can build on to eliminate the vice.

“Let us cooperate and be each other’s keeper. Let us sensitize each other about GBV. Let us report the vice to relevant authorities so that the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” she said.

First Lady tours Yoneco Pavilion-pic by Gracian Jeke-Mana

The First Lady also called for an end to what she termed as harmful cultural practices that perpetrate GBV, especially against women and girls.

“Our culture and traditions must move with the changing time. Let us embrace progressive lifestyles, programs and initiatives that promote women and girls to become empowered and self reliant. It is also the priority of the government to ensure that our country is GBV free,” said Madam Chakwera.

The launch started with a solidarity marsh from Chintheche Trading Center to the venue, which was led by the First Lady herself and the Minister of Gender, Patricia Kaliati, with people hoisting placards denouncing GBV while the Malawi Prison Brass Band followed behind, playing fanfares.

In her remarks, Chairperson for NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN), Barbara Banda, observed that GBV has been “very prevalent” during the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in teen pregnancies and early marriages, among other ills.

“These teen pregnancies and early marriages are fuelling inequalities and poverty, resulting in more GBV cases. We need to do more to stem GBV. Involvement in the fight at individual level is very important. We also need to encourage and increase whistle blowing and enhance punishment,” said Banda.

She also took a swipe at the Affordable Input Program (AIP), saying it has become a conduit for perpetrating sexual and gender based violence against women and girls.

“Women spend hours to access cheap fertilizer and seeds at AIP depots, reportedly due to network glitches. There are media reports that these women suffer sexual abuses and harassment. Government must address this with urgency,” she said.

Other speakers at the event included; Minister Patricia Kaliati and a UN Resident Representative, Nuha Ceecay.

Malawi is commemorating this year’s 16 days of activism against GBV under a localized theme: Orange Malawi; End violence Against Women and Girls, Act Now.

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