As women in Malawi are marking International Women’s Day, Link for Education Governance (LEG) organisation is calling for multi-stakeholder action to ensure improved access to quality education for transforming the lives of rural and urban girls and women.
Reflecting on this year’s local theme, “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists transforming Women’s Lives,” LEG acknowledges interventions that Malawi has put in place to achieve gender equality such as the enactment of the National Gender Policy.
Further to that, LEG acknowledges that education is universally accepted as one of the most powerful tools for personal empowerment and addressing gender inequality and schooling is therefore central to accomplishing the fourth of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Gender Equality.
However, LEG executive director Lydia Sichali Fuliwa in a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Thursday, said despite the country’s interventions targeting girls, disparities continue to exist in Malawian schools.
“ For example, the recent National Education Sector Plan (NESP) report indicate that survival rate to Std 8 remain low for girls as compared to boys at 29% against 36% respectively. The repetition rate for girls is at 22, 7% against the government target of 10%.
“Previous reports have indicated that there are limited national interventions to specifically reduce high dropouts for girls in upper primary school classes (Standard 6, 7 and 8),” reads the statement in part.
According to a government report, for example, in 2009 the dropout rate for boys in Standard Eight was at 2.75 % while that of girls stood at 16.26 %, LEG said.
The organisation ALSO cited the 2017 fifth report of the integrated household Surveys conducted by the National Statistical Office, which indicates that literacy levels among people aged 15 and above are lower for women at 66 percent compared to for males at 81% , with a national average of 73 percent.
It said literacy levels are much lower for rural women.
According to the report, reasons for failure to attend school include lack of money, parents not allowing them, helping at home and school being too far from home.
LEG statement said the analysis of obstacles to education for girls and women, shows that several factors contribute to such disheartening statistics which include patriarchal nature of Malawi society.
The organisation noted that Malawi is highly patriarchal society in which women have little say or no say in major decision-making, saying parents especially in rural communities are hesitant to fully support their daughters as compared to their sons.
“ In addition to this, much as women do most of the social reproductive work in Malawi, men are still regarded as the breadwinners and so many families do not see the need for sending girls to school as education is primarily valued for its role in wage employment,” the statement said.
LEG is therefore urging all stakeholders to join hands in promoting education especially for rural girls for the country to register success in interventions put in place such as the free primary education, bursaries to vulnerable girls, readmission of school-aged mothers and increased infrastructure.
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