Malawi Parliament passes Gender Equality Bill: Women empowered

Parliament on Wednesday passed the Gender Equality Bill which among others, seeks to promote gender equality and equal integration of men and women in all functions of the society.

The bill also aims at prohibiting and providing redress for sex discrimination, harmful practices and sexual harassment. It further provides public awareness while promoting gender equality.

Minister of Gender, Children and Social welfare, Anita Kalinde said the passing of the bill would allow women to be heard and have their views incorporated in matters that affect them.

Kalinde said for many years, women in the country were marginalized in accessing development. She said women were also denied opportunities and that in most times they were exposed to all sorts of abuse.

Kalinde: The bill will empower women
Kalinde: The bill will empower women

“I would like to applaud the house for the support in order to have this bill passed. This has demonstrated that we legislators especially men care for the welfare of their wife’s, mothers and sisters. The enactment of this bill means empowering women to actively take part in any development activities taking place in the country.

“The bill also seeks to eliminate uneven distribution of opportunities which had existed for many years,” Kalinde explained.

She further said, “Passing the bill also fulfill Malawi’s commitment to international law and policy on gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

Dr. George Chaponda, Leader of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the house applauded government for tabling the bill which he said would provide equal platform for men as well as women.

Chaponda said gender equality had no bar; it concerned both women and men. He said for long time Malawian women were marginalized in terms of development involvement.

He cited that even when looking for jobs, women were asked to first do some favors before they could be picked or considered for any post.

“I would like to commend the government for bringing the bill which among others will punish people involved in harassing women. Our sisters have suffered enough and as DPP we fully support it,” he said.

Chaponda said DPP was in no way going to oppose the Bill. He said the late President, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika championed women issues to the extent that he chose a woman to be the Vice President.

He said, “We have a women President today because the late Mutharika had the welfare of women at heart. Bingu did not only do this to Malawi but he even went to tell leaders at the African Union that it was time to allow women take part in the affairs of the nations.”

Spokes person for Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Jolly Kalelo said the bill would empower women and allow them to have access to productive resources, development, opportunities and enable them to be involved in decision making.

“Among others, this Bill will ensure that there is equal access to education and ensure that harmful social cultural or religious practices and sexual harassment for women is prohibited,” explained Kalelo.

Gender issues are an integral part of the overall nation development agenda of the Malawi government. And for Malawi, women constitute 51 percent of the total population.

However, the analysis of the social situation indicates that women are disadvantaged in almost every sector of development.

The Gender Equality Bill therefore gives women an opportunity to be heard and that their participation in public life and decision making positions through the introduction of quota in public appointments is enhanced.

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