Government of Malawi, through Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, has partnered with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Ireland in protecting women and adolescent girls through Technology and Empowerment Enhancing Networks in Safe Spaces (TEENS) project.
The project seeks to provide interactive design approach and new technologies in the support to safe spaces for vulnerable women and adolescent girls.
The Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, said during the official launch of the project on Friday that the project will help in protecting the welfare of women and children through interactive and new technologies as is the key to strengthen psychosocial support, counselling and referral activities.
“It is encouraging to note that safe space approach has proven to be successful in a number of districts,” she said.
Kaliati said women and girls in Malawi face profound inequalities. In 2019, Malawi ranked 142 out of 162 countries in the UN Gender Inequality Index reflecting deep gender based inequalities in education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, empowerment and economic activities.
She further said gender disparities are deeply rooted in cultural and social norms which limit the realization of women and girls’ rights, empowerment and decision making.
Gender disparities are also reflected in high rates of child marriage, in women and girls’ limited control over their sexual lives and structurally which contributes to high maternal mortality rates at 439 per 100,000 live births, she said.
According to Kaliati, almost 47 percent of Malawian girls are married at the age of 18 and 10 percent of the girls aged between 15 to 19 have had children.
This is a serious concern to government considering the efforts and interventions that are being employed to address the challenges, she said.
UNFPA Country Representative, Won Young Hong, observed that teenage pregnancies and early marriages the reasons Malawi is not achieving its development goals because it has many young people living in poverty.
“We believe that this is the fundamental issue government, society and the partners need to overcome,” she said.
Hong said many children in the country are born from unplanned pregnancies resulting to high population growth thereby increased poverty.
Deputy Head of Mission for Ireland, Diarmuld McClean, pledged his government commitment to continue assist Malawi to protect vulnerable women and adolescent girls.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :