Minister of Gender, Children, Disabilities and Social Welfare Jean Kalilani has called for more awareness on gender and marriage related laws saying ignorance is putting most women in Malawi at a disadvantage in local communities.
Kalilani urged stakeholders to work hand in hand with her ministry in sensitising the rural masses saying there are still many people within the local communities who are not aware about gender and marriage related laws.
Speaking during a sensitization workshop on gender and marriage related laws at local communities held at Mponela in Dowa, the minister thanked traditional leaders who are doing a lot in enforcing the marriage laws by withdrawing underage girls from marriage and forcing them to go back to school.
“This development is very encouraging not only to government alone, but for the good of the lives of the girls, families, community and their friends who would see at them as role models in the society,” Kalirani said.
During discussions, both the presenters and participants acknowledged gender issues that are putting women on a disadvantage and perpetuate stereotypes against them.
The meeting observed that gender stereotypes are still rampant in the country such that women are not considered in decision making processes, something that is derailing development. In his remarks, District Commissioner for Dowa, Alex Mdooko, stressed the need for chiefs to avoid perpetuating gender stereotypes against women.
Mdooko urged the leaders to empower women through levelling of the playing field saying doing so, would encourage more women and girls to come out in the open in decision making policies.
Chiefs in the district urged partners fighting gender stereotypes against women to ensure that the laws are simplified, by among other things, translating them into vernacular language to enhance understanding among the rural communities saying most Malawians living in the rural areas, have low literacy levels.
Malawi is a signatory to a number of conventions that seek to fight discrimination, promote gender equality and put women in decision making positions.