JB bemoans gender-based violence at women’s CCAP meet

President Joyce Banda has observed that physical, economic, emotional and sexual violence against women in Malawi continue to be high, saying government must, in partnership with the church, develop programmes to combat gender-based violence.

She made the observation on Monday when she presided over the official opening of the CCAP Women’s Annual Conference at the Blantyre Synod’s Henry Henderson Institute (HHI) Multipurpose Hall.

“Gender-based violence is a serious concern for us here in Malawi. I am encouraged that as women of faith, we have taken it up as a priority,” she told the conference whose theme is “Women of Strong Faith: Our Call Today”.

In her time as Minister of Gender in 2006, she said she championed the passing of the Domestic Violence Act but said it is clear that more needs to be done to stop violence in the homes, violence in the schools and violence in the streets.

JB receives gift from Rev Maulana

Said President Banda: “I stand here with you my sisters and brothers in the Lord  to condemn all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls. This is the time to stand up and cry to the Lord to protest us, to protect our children and to protect our mothers from gender-based violence. I commend you because indeed the church should be the fountain of the movement against gender-based violence”.

She expressed “deepest gratitude” to the General Secretary, the Moderator and the organizers of the annual women’s conference for inviting her “to share this special day with you”.

“I am happy to be here to take part in the critical discussions the conference will have on issues affecting women like HIV and AIDS, safe motherhood, gender based violence among others,” said Banda, adding that her participation was a continuation of the dialogue that she has already had with women from other sectors.

“I have had important discussions with the Muslim women during their annual Ijitimah in Mzuzu in October; I have been with the women from the civil society during the Regional Conference for African Women in November in Lilongwe. Within this month, I have had separate and focused meetings with women living with disabilities, women living with HIV and AIDS, and women from the Private Sector,” she said.

She said what had inspired her in all these forums was that women have taken renewed action and commitment to address the many challenges facing them, children and other disadvantaged communities with more vigor and determination.

“We have to be women of strong faith; we have to take heed of our calling; and we have to take our rightful place to ensure that women’s challenges are addressed. We should be the Lord’s soldiers in fighting the battles of HIV and AIDS, Maternal mortality, gender based violence, child abuse and others,” the President emphasized.

Maternal mortality

It is unacceptable that 675 women should die out of every 100,000 women when they are giving birth to another life, the President said, also noting that the average number of children per woman in Malawi is as high as 5.7.

She said to save the women’s lives, she established the Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood as one way of ensuring that there are more voices that can champion the cause for women’s better health.

“I am pleased to inform you that the Initiative has started very well, and is engaged in national wide activities in sensitizing communities about the need to protect the lives of our expectant mothers; to stop early marriages for our girls; and to ensure that babies receive adequate care,” said President Banda.

Other speakers included Olive Chikhula, chairperson of the main organizing committee, Reverend Mercy Chilapula, Moderator of Blantyre Synod and Reverend Alex Maulana, General Secretary for Blantyre Synod. They thanked the President for gracing the occasion and prayed to God to shower her with more mercies, blessings and wisdom.

President Banda with former official hostess Mama Kadzamira
President Banda with iconic human rights activist and lawyer Dr Vera Chirwa
Rev Maulana
CCAP Blantyre Synod Moderator preaching
President Banda being welcomed by a flower girl

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