The Irish Ambassador to Malawi, Áine Hearns has commended efforts by local NGOs in the fight for gender equality.
Speaking during a gender violence based photographic exhibition at Woodlands (formerly known as Sanctuary Lodge) in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Hearns said With good support and facilitation by capable and dedicated NGO’s, real progress can and should be made, so that we can all work towards a society which will be based on equality and thereby limit the incidences of Gender Based Violence.’
She quoted Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and UNCHR saying: ‘Rule of law and zero tolerance of violence against women are essential elements in prioritization of the safety of women and girls in societies. It is incredibly important that we have justice systems that work at local level. There are practical community based solutions which need to be resourced, with emphasis on collective stakeholder commitment at local level.’
The exhibition, which comprised of a series of powerful photographs taken by Chipi Khonje told the stories of sixteen girls and women from around Malawi who have been affected by the gender based violence. The exhibition was attended by officials from government, civil society and international organizations.
UN Women also showcased photographs of their campaigns. Since the abduction of over 200 Chibok school girls in April, UN Women Malawi initiated a local mobilization and sensitization campaign of two key messages “Bring Back Our Girls” and “Keep Girls in School in Malawi and Africa”.
Photographs of Mary Chilima, second Lady of Malawi, market traders, and the PS from the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Welfare, Dr. Mary Shawa were some of the images of vocal proponents for the welfare of women and girls.
In 2013 the UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon launched the UNiTE campaign to end violence against women. UN Women last year rallied artists and poets in an exhibition and charity auction.
Pictures of the photographic “NO” campaign featuring celebrities such as Skeffa Chimoto, Osgood Kayuni and leaders from various sectors such government and commerce were featured in the in the exhibition.
For 2014, UN Women has added a song contest to the “Freedom from Violence Against Women and Girls’ exhibition and talent show” which will be held on 10th December – the International Human Rights Day marking the last day of the 16 Days.