Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare Dr Mary Shaba says government is committed to ensuring that women’s rights are protected and promoted.
She made the remarks in Mchinji on Monday when she officially welcomed the rural women from Zimbabwe and Zambia, SADC Caravan to Kilimanjaro, an initiative by rural women in the region to strengthen urgent action in claiming and defending their land and natural resource rights.
The Kilimanjaro initiative was conceived during a meeting of rural women and civil society organisations in 2012, held in Dares Salaam, Tanzania.
Mountain Kilimanjaro was chosen because it symbolizes challenges of rural women and represents starting point for spreading a message throughout the world.
“The Caravan initiative greatly resonates with the commitment of government’s fast tracking women empowerment and attainment of gender equality as a prerequisite for attainment of sustainable social and economic development of the country,” she said.
Shaba said the focus on rural women’s rights to land and natural resources is timelier to ensure continued support for women’s equal access to and control over land as stipulated in the new land act.
“The Kilimanjaro initiative offers a unique window of opportunity for all the stakeholders to collectively reflect, review and reposition on how best we can support attainment of land rights by rural women,” she said.
Speaking earlier, the leader of delegation for Zambia and Zimbabwe rural women Hellen Mwale said the women in Africa have the same problems of rights to land.
“As women across Africa we decided to come up with the Women to Kilimanjaro Initiative to put together our voices to lobby for government and agencies to hear us and let women have access to land and be provided with resources,” she said.
The initiative in Malawi is pioneered by Coalition of Women Farmers in Malawi (COWFA) and the caravan is supported by Action Aid, OXFAM and International Land Coalition (ILC) Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) among other organisations.