By Kondanani Chilimunthaka
Madame Monica Chakwera, the First Lady of the Republic of Malawi has expressed her worries over the continued increasing gender based violence against women and girls both domestically and globally, adding that it remains the most widespread and persistent violation of the rights for both women and girls.
Speaking at Chiwaza school ground in Chintheche (Nkhata-Bay), the First Lady told the gathering that though 30 years have passed since the inception of the campaign, the situation remains critical and does not reflect what the 16 days of activism were set up for.
For instance, Madam Chakwera said; 243 million women experience gender-based violence of different kinds in their lifetime globally, where as in Malawi about 34% of women do face either physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime, adding that 42% of girls are forced in marriages before attaining the age of 18, while others do face challenges of rape, defilement and sexual harassment either in homes, schools, communities, and workplaces.
She further said, the 16 days of activism was incepted among others; to see that the rights of all, especially women are being respected and upheld, and to create a world in which girls and women would participate in community and national activities without fear of being harassed or abused.
Additionally, Madam Chakwera said; she is aware of the achievements gained so far by the initiative, but was quick to tell the gathering that the events of the past three decades be used to help reflecting on the approaches and strategize on the ending gender-based violence.
The First Lady then thanked President Lazarus Chakwera who is championing HeForShe campaign, and his government for demonstrating commitment in addressing violence against women and girls, citing among others; Various programs that are in place such as: The modification of the harmful practices and social norms that perpetuate gender-based violence.
Madam Monica Chakwera who is promoting women’s rights through Shaping Our Future Foundation has since said the 16 days be a period in which collectively the citizens and all stakeholders take stock of the impact of the various gender-based violence, and encouraged everyone to have responsibility in ending violence against gender.
This year’s campaign whose launch has fallen alongside the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women will be commemorated under the theme “Orange Malawi: End Violence Against Women and Girls, Act Now (Tonse Pamodzi, Tithetse Nkhaza kwa Amayi ndi Atsikana, Chitanipo Kanthu)” and runs from November 25, to December 10 annually.