Male members of the Malawi National Assembly have signed up as HeForShe champions, making critical commitments to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country.
Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, led 27 other male Members of Parliament (MPs) in signing the commitment in Lilongwe.
The National Assembly’s HeforShe commitments are another landmark in promoting the gender agenda in the country as it follows the commitments made by President Peter Mutharika as the Impact Head of State HeforShe champion.
Following the signing of the pact, which is being championed by the UN Women, the Speaker and the new HeforShe champions devoted to undertake three commitments aimed at advancing gender equality in Malawi.
The National Assembly will work towards the harmonization of the Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act and Section 22 of the Malawi Constitution.
Despite the guidance provided by the newly enacted Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act that raises the minimum age of marriage to 18 years old, Section 22 of The Constitution of Malawi still allows children to be married at the age of 16 with consent.
According to the UN Women, this challenges the implementation of the new law and as such deemed necessary for the National Assembly to work towards the harmonization of the two.
The MPs will also commit to engendering of the National Budget to ensure that the national budget passed by the Parliament mainstreams gender, thereby ensuring that service delivery and development projects financed by the Government of Malawi and its development partners equally benefit men and women, boys and girls.
The new HeforShe champions further committed to ensuring that a positive and encouraging code of conduct for female MPs is promoted. This, amongst other things, includes the prohibition of gender insensitive language against women parliamentarians in the chamber so as to safeguard women’s interests and respect in the House as well as in their constituencies.
In his remarks, the Speaker stated that although there have been some significant milestones in enhancing the number of women in strategic positions such as the increase in the number of female MPs in Constitutional Committees namely Defence and Security; Legal Affairs; Public Appointments and Budgeting Committees; and one female MP, Olipa Muyaba Chiluba being elected Chairperson of the Defence and Security, still more needs to be undertaken.
Msowoya has made an appeal to MPs to domesticate the HeforShe initiative and commitments at the grassroot levels through traditional leaders and local assemblies.
Clara Anyangwe, UN Women Representative for Malawi Country Office, commended the National Assembly for adopting the resolution to domesticate the HeforShe initiative and for enacting critical gender related legislations mainly the Gender Equality Act (2013), the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act (2015), the Trafficking in Persons Act amongst other progressive instruments in the country.
In her reflection, Anyangwe pointed out that challenges with strong gender connotations still remain in the country. These include; the under representation of women in politics and in decision making, harmful cultural practices, child marriages, early pregnancies and school drop-outs.
“These continue to negatively influence the development outcomes in the country,” observed Anyangwe.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :