As a way of fostering gender equality the Malawi National Assembly Speaker Richard Msowoya and 27 male members of parliament signed up an initiative called “He For She” champions aimed at making three critical commitments to promote Gender Equality and women’s empowerment in the country.
According to the statement released the National Assembly’s “HeforShe” commitments are another landmark in promoting the gender agenda in the country as it follows the commitments made by Professor Peter Mutharika as the Impact Head of state HeforShe champion.
The speaker of parliament and the new “HeforShe” champions devoted to undertake the commitments aimed at advancing gender equality in Malawi such as that the National assembly will work towards the harmonization of the Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act and.Section 22 of Malawi Constitution.
Despite the guidance provided by the newly enacted Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations act that raises the minimum age of marriage to 18 years old, Section 22 of The Constitution of Malawi still allows children to be married at 16 with consent.
This challenges the implementation of the new law and as such deemed necessary for the national assembly to work towards the harmonization of the two.
The initiative will also improve the Engendering of the National Budget that is aimed at ensuring that the national budget passed by the parliament mainstreams gender, thereby ensuring that service delivery and development projects financed by the Government of Malawi and its development partners equally benefit men and women, boys and girls.
According to the statement the initiative is also aimed at Promoting a positive Code of conduct towards Female parliamentarians.
The new HeforShe champions further committed to ensuring that a positive and encouraging code of conduct for female members of parliament is promoted.
This, amongst other things that include the prohibition of gender insensitive language against women parliamentarians in the chamber so as to safeguard women’s interests and respect in Parliament as well as in their constituencies.
Richard Msowoya also said that although there have been some significant milestones in enhancing the number of women in strategic positions such as the increase in the number of female MPs in Constitutional Committees namely Defence and Security; Legal Affairs; Public Appointments; and Budgeting Committees; and one female Member of Parliament Olipa Muyaba Chiluba being elected Chairperson of the Defence and Security, still more needs to be undertaken.
Msowoya made an appeal to members of parliament to domesticate the “HeforShe” initiative and commitments at the grassroot levels through, traditional leaders and local assemblies.
In her remarks Mrs. Clara Anyangwe, UN Women Representative for Malawi Country Office commended the National Assembly for adopting the resolution to domesticate the HeforShe in enacting critical gender related legislations mainly the Gender Equality Act (2013), the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act (2015), the Trafficking in Persons Act amongst other progressive instruments in the country.
These include under representation of women in politics and in decision making, harmful cultural practices, child marriages, early pregnancies and school drop-outs.
The sign up event was recently held at the New Malawian Parliament Building in Lilongwe.