The Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) says “rising” violence against women and other forms of gender based violence could be addressed by establishing punitive bylaws in local councils to tackle these “evils” at the grassroot level.
Malga president, councillor Wild Ndipo, made these sentiments Friday at Mponela during a meeting involving stakeholders from Mzimba and Ntchisi districts–where Malga is implementing a four months project aimed at helping the two districts develop bylaws that would help reduce violence against women and girls.
The project, pegged at K74 million, is dubbed “enhancing the capacity of local governments and women councillors caucus to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls and harmful practices”.
Malga, an umbrella body of all local governments in Malawi, is implementing the project with financial support from a partnership of European Union and UN Women, under the Spotlight Initiative–a multi-donor and multi-stakeholder program which seeks to eliminate violence against women and girls.
According to councillor Ndipo, the project is, at national level, also targeting Women Councillors Caucus as a vehicle of entrenching girls and women rights through mainstreaming gender responsive budgeting.
“Violence against women and girls continue to rise despite the existing national legislation against these evils. We believe local legislation that would be enforced locally, would help reduce these evils including early marriages. The bylaws will be formulated and enforced in line with the national laws,” said Ndipo, who is also the mayor for the City of Blantyre.
He disclosed that once the bylaws for Mzimba and Ntchisi have been formulated and then drafted and adopted by the Ministry of Justice, other district councils could eventually copy and also apply them across their areas.
Ndipo further said the two district councils will be capacitated to enable them localize national laws that protect women and girls from violence, exploitation and early marriages.
“This will be achieved through enacting the bylaws. In addition, Malga, in collaboration with the National Local Government Finance Committee, will develop gender responsive budgeting guidelines to support all local governments in Malawi to ably prepare and approve their development budgets that are gender responsive,” he said.
In his remarks, director of local government services in the Ministry of Local Government, Spiwe Mawuwa, concurred with councillor Ndipo, adding that the project is providing “rare” technical support to local councils to develop these punitive bylaws.
And taking her turn, national program officer for UN Women, Pamela Mkwamba Matumbi, commended Malga, saying it is the “befitting” institution to implement the project for it works with local structures and strengthens them.
“And, in addition, the women councillors are one of the very important institutions in the councils in terms of advancing the gender agenda. With violence against women and girls on the rise especially in local areas, strengthening local structures through Malga, is the right direction to take.
“Through the project, it is anything the councils choose to do in terms of changing behaviour, activities and advocacy. All these interventions will bring about the much needed change. Otherwise if we do not address local councils, we will not be able to build our local governance system that is strong and responsive to the issues and needs of women and girls,” Mkwamba Matumbi said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :