Listen: Ndilibe chuma ine chopereka kwa mlengi wanga, ndipereka ine, ndipereka moyo wanga (I don’t have any wealth to give to God; I will just have to surrender my life). This is the song that President Joyce Banda started her speech with when she presided over the Consultative Meeting on African Women Decade 2010-2020 at Robins Park in Blantyre on Wednesday.
The theme of the decade is “Grassroots Approaches to Gender Equality and Women empowerment”.
Banda, the first female President in Malawi and southern Africa and the second in Africa after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said she values the support that women in the country have enjoyed from the men folk, citing the passing of the Domestic Bill a couple of years ago as an example.
“Without men, we could not have passed that bill in Parliament,” the Head of State said.
President Banda noted that without her husband, retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, she would not have been where she is today.
She said that women in the country need to be vigilant in uplifting their own lives through hard work in both entrepreneurship and employment.
President Banda announced that her government will soon set up information, communication technologies (ICT) training centres across for women so that they can learn computer skills.
She also ordered that the public radio and television stations should not be used to scandalize the womenfolk “and Joyce Banda will have to be the last victim”.
“You should not scandalize women in this country anymore,” she said, adding that young people should not be shown “dirty things on the television”.
On the ‘decade’, President Banda said the overall objective of the decade was to improve the status of the African Women at the grassroots level.
“The theme recognizes that there is need for a bottom-up approach to the improvement of the status of African women. The bottom-up approach gives the grassroots women a chance to participate in decision making on the issues that affect them,” President Banda said, adding that the decade has outlined 10 themes, which give the African Union member states a chance to re-examine their policies, strategies and actions towards the empowerment of women.
She said her government is committed to promote and implement empowerment programmes in line with the Decade Agenda and that government would ensure that there is fair access to and distribution of national resources and opportunities “as a foundation for equitable and participatory development”.
“My focus is to ensure that we create wealth for women in the fight against poverty. Most women do not have incomes or decent incomes. The majority of Malawian women in both rural and urban areas do not have sources of decent incomes for their livelihood as a result they fail to assert themselves in society,” she noted.
AU Director of Women, Litha Ogana said the idea of a Women’s Decade was hatched in 1975 by the United Nations at the First World conference on Women, which was held in Mexico City.
“Since then, African women have been involved, and continue to participate in local and international consultations on women’s rights and gender equality. African women’s contributions have enriched discussions at the subsequent Women Conferences in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995).
“At their Extra-Ordinary Meeting of Ministers of Gender and Women Affairs in Maseru, Lesotho in December 2008, the Africa Union (AU) Ministers for Gender and Women’s Affairs called on the AU to declare 2010 – 2020 as African Women’s Decade, and undertake wide consultations to ensure that the Decade is a success,” she explained.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Emma Kaliya, Chairperson, National Committee on Women on Decade; Edith Akridge, Managing Director of Joyce Banda Foundation, Mary Nkosi, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor; Sigele Kasasi, representing Women with Disabilities; and Reen Kachere, Minister of Gender, Children and Community Development.
All the speakers congratulated President Banda for ascending to the Highest Office in the land, saying she is the biggest role model to young women and girls.
Comics Chindime and Samalani entertained guests with a comedy while Joyce Banda Foundation pupils made recitals regarding girl-child education.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :