UN Women courts North chiefs to end some old cultural norms: He for She campaign

Old habits die hard, so they say. But not with UN Women Malawi an organisation under United Nations which has promised to do all it can through Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Karonga district to end some old cultural norms and traditions that prevent both girls and women to achieve tangible goals in life including political positions in the forth coming 2019 general elections.

Paramount Chief Kyungu (C) flanked by Kilupula and Mwirang’ombe.
Anyangwe: We want to empower women

To achieve this feat, the organization decided to court all traditional leaders in both Karonga and Chitipa district through a one day meeting held at Karonga Museum Amp Theater hall whose aim was to drill them on how to take the challenges women face head on.

Speaking at the function UN Women Country Representative Clara Anyangwe urged all traditional leaders in the two districts to be agents of change if the region is to achieve the gender equality campaign.

Dubbed He for She, the exercise according to Anyangwe will empower chiefs to formulate and implement by-laws that will see reduction of gender based violence (GBV) and push for any human rights agenda such as marrying off young girls for money.

“Chiefs are critical in any development in their areas. They can easily come up with by-laws, implement, monitor and punish law breakers accordingly. This is why we thought it wise to involve our traditional leaders as they are also custodians of culture,” Anyangwe said.

Anyangwe said ladies have the potential of making it big in society only if they are empowered economically through small scale businesses and capacity building. She therefore emphasized the need of fully supporting women as doing so would mean supporting the entire family.

“This is the sole reason why we are advocating for She for He project so that women should be economically independent. It is only financially stable women who can challenge men even during the forth coming tripartite elections in all positions be it Parliamentary seat or Local Government even the presidency,” she said.

Anyangwe further said her together with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the 50:50 Management Campaign Agency are working together to make sure that come 2019 we have a good number of women representation both in the National Assembly and Local Government.

Speaking on behalf of CCJP Karonga Diocese, project’s Field Officer Vincent Bwinga commended UN Women for championing He for She in Karonga and Chitipa districts, describing it timely as it is in tandem with the commission’s mission of fighting against gender equality in society.

“Our thematic area to fight against gender based violence through women economic empowerment so this auger well with what UN Women wants to implement in the two districts,” Bwinga said.

Added he: “On the political front, we are also ready to support female candidature in the 2019 general elections by among others asking all political parties to level the playground starting from primaries of Local Government to Parliamentary seat,”.

On his part, She for He Champion Paramount Chief Kyungu hailed the project, saying it has come at a time the two districts are in a cultural tradition of marrying off young girls for money locally known as chithola minga.

The Paramount chief promised the two organisations that he will put in place by-laws that will help to reduce gender based violence related issues in his area, saying after this, there will be no room for early marriages in Karonga and Chitipa districts respectively.

“Let every parent know that a girl child is not for sale. She is like the boys that you have in your homes so educate them instead of taking them as material for sale and marriage, saying education is righteous and ignorance is evil,” Kyungu said.

Kyungu promised to take the She for He message even to politicians so that they too should open up to women in readiness for the 2019 general elections.

CCJP of Karonga Diocese is running a lot of programs in areas such as social accountability, health governance and advocating for accountability of Local Development Fund (LDF), Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and District Development Fund (DDF) and He for She which has a component of the gender based violence eradication program.

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3 years ago

Misguided people! First of all the country already has laws on minimum age for marriage. Why does the UN and the chief Kyungu think it’s necessary to have New bye-laws? Clearly the issue is not the lack of laws. Awareness is one of them but the real causes are lack of economic opportunities. If you want to empower women, you need to tackle this. Give girls a chance to stay in school and for those who have potential, give them scholarships to go to university. This is what UN should be doing and it’s what our stupid chiefs should be… Read more »

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