World Vision Malawi joins 16 days of activism against gender based violence

World Vision Malawi (WVM) has  called for the dissemination and implementation of existing legislation to end growing gender inequalities and violence against women and girls in the country as it is joined Malawi government and its development partners in launching the 2018 campaign on 16 days of activism against gender based violence (GBV).

Nyathi speaking to reporters

This year’s campaign runs from 25th November to 10th December under a global theme; ‘End Gender Based Violence in the World of Work’. However, Malawi has contextualized the theme to ‘End Gender Based Violence in the World of Work and Tertiary Institutions’.

“This speaks volume of what is happening in our work spaces and schools especially for women and girls,” World Vision Malawi National Director Hazel Nyathi told a news conference in Lilongwe on Thursday.

According to UN Women, GBV at work and school causes direct economic and physical harm to women and girls and undermines their productivity, livelihoods, employment prospects, physical and emotional health and sense of security.

Nyathi said the theme also resonates well with a campaign her organization is implementing under the theme, ‘It takes Malawi to end child marriage’ and the current sour gender status the country has.

She noted that Malawi has in place proper laws such as the Gender Equality Act but gender imbalances and violence are still on the rise in the country because of weak institutions that are failing to implement relevant laws.

Malawi’s Gender Inequality Index, which ranks the country 148 out of the 160 countries in the 2017 index, reflects high levels of gender based inequalities in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity.

For example, 16.7 percent of women reached at least secondary level of education in Malawi compared to 25.4 of their male counterparts.

Female participation in the labour market is 72.3 percent compared to 81.9 for men.

According to the Violence Against Children (VAC) study of 2014, sexual abuse, physical and emotional violence commonly overlap childhood in Malawi with over half of females and approximately 70 percent of males aged 13 to 24 years having experienced some form of violence prior to the age of 18.

Nyathi observed that these statistics call for protracted awareness and implementation of current government policies in dealing with gender based inequalities and violence especially in workplaces and schools.

“We need to ensure that all cases of sexual abuse and gender based violence are dealt with promptly and decisively by strengthening linkages between district education offices and the national level response to violence and abuse in school environment and reflect on our beliefs and cultural values,” she said.

She further noted that there is need to transform the institutions that produce and reproduce what she described as unequal social relations of power such households, communities, religious and traditional institutions.

“Barriers to women equality are deeply embedded within families, communities, tradition and taboo as well as within states and economics. Change is needed in beliefs, attitudes and practices in all these sites,” said Nyathi.

She then appealed to all Malawians to engage in awareness and information sharing during the official 16 days of activism against gender based violence campaign in order to reduce cases of GBV and promote equity in all spheres of lives.

The campaign links GBV and human rights and emphasizes such violence as human rights violation. It was initiated by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991.

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