Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda on Tuesday, November 15, 2016,addressed the ‘RISING Global Peace Forum’ in Coventry, Britain, calling for genuine political will among world governments and leaders to incorporate the woman’s voice “at all cost to realize genuine peace resolution in conflict-prone territories”.
Banda shared her own experiences and what barriers she faced on her journey to leadership and discussed what women and girls can achieve – for themselves, for their communities, and for the world – when those barriers are broken down. She also discussed how empowerment of women can help them actively participate in bringing about peace and security in the world.
She said peace, security and stability in the world cannot be overemphasized because they are the necessary prerequisites for political, social and economic development of any society; from the family level, community, nation, continent and the entire world.
“People caught up in conflict cycles are deprived of basic services and human rights such as health, education and participation in economic activity.
“Millions of innocent people become refugees in foreign countries while others are displaced internally. In all these cycles of conflict, it is women and children who suffer most. It is imperative, therefore, that while the international community seeks to end violence and armed conflicts across the world, women must always be placed at the centre of these efforts”, she said.
Banda said that to ensure that women contribute meaningfully towards the attainment of peace, deliberate efforts must be made to ensure that as many girls and women as possible acquire formal and advanced education.
“Providing girls with an education helps break the cycle of poverty; educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school. When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come,” she said.
She also said it is imperative that governments create a conducive for women to attain economic empowerment. She said it is only women with adequate economic means that can successfully compete in politics, which has traditionally been the man’s domain.
When women have reliable economic means, they can join politics and go all the way to parliament, cabinet and State House where they can make crucial decisions on peace and security and other vital decisions that affect the masses. Women with economic means can become lawmakers and sit right in Parliament where they can contribute to adoption of laws that encourage peace and co-existence among nations and people, she said.
“Women leaders are always willing to engage in dialogue and mediation where political and other differences emerge. Women leaders focus much on fellow women and children; they make sure that as many qualified women as possible are appointed to strategic decision-making positions in mainstream civil service, boards of public enterprises and the private sector. Women leaders prefer dialogue and avoid conflict. Women leaders strongly believe in engagement and consultation as the best approach to resolving differences.
She said for example, when she became Malawi’s President in 2012, the country was polarized on tribal and regional lines where most of key government positions were mostly occupied by one tribe and that the country had poor relations with our neighbours and the development partners.
“As President, I adopted an inclusive and participatory policy where I appointed an all-inclusive Cabinet. I also engaged all stakeholders—opposition leaders, the clergy, leaders of the civil society, traditional chiefs and the academia for consultations on key and important national policy issues.
“I took an inclusive consultative approach on the Lake Malawi border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania and the fight against theft of public funds where I engaged with members of opposition political parties, faith based communities and civil society,” said Banda.
Dubbed ‘RISING 16’, this was the second annual Global Peace Forum, which brought together World leaders, peace practitioners, academics, diplomats and media, among others, to discuss world’s most intractable issues, with a primary objective to “provoking peace”.
RISING 16 examined “the ripple effect” of responding to conflict, whether with action or inaction and explored the consequences of interventions in areas such as global migration, international conflict, community cohesion and countering violent extremism; and the role of women in peace and security; and the impact of conflict on children and young people.
The event explored the consequences of interventions in areas such as global migration, international conflict, community cohesion and countering violent extremism; the role of women in peace and security; and the impact of conflict on children and young people.
Other high-profile speakers at the conference included Andrew Mitchell, UK’s Conservative MP and former Secretary of State for International Development, Laura Liswood,Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders, (CWWL),Mohamed Nasheed is the president of the Maldivian Democratic Party who served as the fourth president of the Maldives (2008 – 2012) and Atifete Jahjaga, the first woman President of the Republic of Kosovo, elected by the Parliament of Kosovo on April 7, 2011, among other.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :