A youth led organisation called Her Liberty Malawi on Wednesday launched an advocacy ‘It Starts With woMen’ campaign to encourage individuals to make necessary changes to advance gender equality in Malawi.
This emphasis on ME is meant to ground gender equality and shifts in gender and cultural norms with the individual – the girl or boy, father or mother, the young leader and advocate, or the decisionmaker in power at different levels.
Speaking after the launch, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender Community Development and Social Welfare, Roselyn Makhumula who was also the guest of honor at the launch, said the initiative is very important in as far as gender equality is concerned and that it is very interesting to see a lot of youths coming forward to work with government in advancing gender equality as well as eliminating violence against women and girls.
“So, we would like to encourage all women and everybody to understand gender equality. We have gender equality act which talks about looking at everybody on equal terms, so for that it will be what is stipulated in the act to be achieved and we need a lot of players and we see young people, the youth like we have seen today, it is encouraging that now we are achieving what we need as a Country,” said Makhumula.
She also noted that the approach that has been undertaken on this campaign, which aims to target individuals, the young, the old, females and males to work with them directly rather than working with an organisation directly, is such a good approach and it will have a positive impact.
” When you are talking to somebody one on one, they understand better but, in a group, others sort of miss out. It’s like we have formulated a domino effect so the word will be spread very fast and everybody will understand what gender equality is all about,” explained Makhumula.
In her remarks, Her Liberty Malawi Executive Director Tikhala Itaye said they have launched the campaign knowing very well that in Malawi there are a lot of issues affecting women and girls and now through this campaign they have to ensure that there are equal opportunities, resources and equal rights among men and women, boys and girls.
“So today we have launched a program called ” It Starts with Me” Me in the word women this is to say it will start with each and every one of us like me myself to advance issues of gender equality.
“We have heard so many reports about issues that are affecting women and girls and we said we need to ensure that there are equal opportunities. Malawi does have gender equality act and policies in place that really bring out these issues, however, at an individual level, community level we still find harmful cultural practices, we still find girls really affected when it comes to issues of teenage pregnancies, child marriages or even at work which is usually affecting young women in their spaces,” said Itaye.
She added that under the campaign, various partners will be engaging people at individual level to take action, recognise what gender equality is and make a commitment to treat boys and girls, men and women equally.
“We will have conversation to say do you understand the issues of gender equality and from there having to say do you understand harm that’s being done around gender imbalance and to say can you reflect some of your actions that are being done and saying how best can we improve gender equality within your own community or your work place.
“So, it’s really about us meeting different sectors engaging with them having dialogue and getting them to commit and take action in advancing gender equality within their own spaces that they are at,” said Itaye.
Itaye also highlighted that in the campaign they have several partners on board that will help in achieving their agenda and that they have several activities that will be done in advancing gender equality throughout the Country. Partners include UN Women, Ministry of Gender, Care International and the National Youth Council of Malawi.
During the launch, Itaye Makhumula and UN Women Country rep Clara Anyangwe awarded Madalitso Juwayeyi a cheque for 1000 Us Dollars for winning the equality 30-day Facebook challenge which solicited commitments that young leaders expect their leaders to make at the GEF in Paris. The challenge empowered youth to share a 1-minute creative video on ” what an equal look like” and also share what commitments they are hoping their leaders will make at the Paris 2021 GEF.