Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda has said the serious challenges women face, especially in the developing countries, include being caught up in the vicious cycle of poverty resulting from lack of income, education, poor health, maternal mortality and HIV/aids, among others.
Banda made the remarks during a high-level interactive panel ‘armchair discussion’ in Buenos Aires Argentina from May 6 to 8, 2015. It was organized by the UNDP and more than 100 people attended, including a strong media presence.
Other panelists included Rebecca Grynspan, Executive Director, Ibero-American Secretariat, and Aisha Buhari, wife of President of Nigeria, Amelia Valcarcel, Councillor of State, Spain, Ahmed Al-Jarawn, President, Arab Parliament, UAE and Maria Cristina Perceval, Argentine Ambassador to the United Nations.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchnerof Argentina, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and PhumizileMlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women also presented keynote speeches at the conference.
“I feel that if we are to transform the lives of communities, women must be given all every opportunity to acquire income, access education and better medical services, among others.
“We have not been able to achieve MDG goals 3 (women’s empowerment and gender equality) and 5 (maternal health) because we’ve denied women these opportunities,” said the former Head of State, adding that a holistic approach in ending poverty in more than imperative.
Tackling the challenges and opportunities for women in agriculture, Banda said women are the natural producers, crop production is what most African women have been doing for thousands of years.
“Therefore, providing support to women by providing better agricultural technologies, extension services and farm inputs would ensure food security and income for rural peasant families. Investing in agriculture, especially women farmers, is the easiest wayto accelerating economic emancipation of communities,” she emphasized.
Banda noted that in these times of climate change, leaders on the continent “ought to think outside the box” and abandon the “business as usual” approach in confronting the adverse impact of climate change.
“Rain patterns have changed. Therefore there will be need to introduce large scale irrigation, appropriate technology, mechanization, commercialization and value addition. Dr. Nkosazana Zuma once said ‘the hoe must find its way to the museum. It has saved women well but now women of Africa deserve better’. This is the approach we must be adopting now,” she said.
In her contribution, Banda largely spoke about the critical priorities to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in a future development agenda and the importance of investing in women farmers, not only as a way to improve the lives of women, but to drive development progress overall.
Her session was moderated by Helen Clark, Head of UNDP and former Prime Minister of New Zealand. It was entitled “Challenges and Experiences Reducing Povertyand Inequality.”
The conference tackled key challenges and experiences in addressing women’s poverty and exclusion and aimed to provide a wide perspective of progress, challenges and policies and strategies since Beijing and provide a forward-looking perspective in the context of the post-2015 development agenda debates.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :