President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday took time to provide free +lessons to the United Nations (UN) HeForShe on how to deal with gender-based violence.
In his capacity as a HeForShe champion, Mutharika was among fellow champions that attended UN HeForShe Impact Summit which launched groundbreaking global solutions for gender equality report at the 73rd UN General Assembly (Unga).
“The fight against gender-based violence must always take an integrated approach. The first thing we need to do is to create a legal framework where women are protected by law. And the laws must be enforced,” he said.
“But the legal frameworks also work best within a culture that is receptive to legal prescriptions.”
Mutharika told the summit that gender-based violence fight cannot be won without working with local leaders who are custodians of culture. He said it is not enough to have the right laws, but the willingness of the people to comply with the laws against gender-based violence.
He said engagement of local leaders and stakeholders, who influence beliefs in the social fabric, is also necessary and that both men and women must be convinced that the laws against gender-based violence are in their own interest to follow.
“As a country, we have learned that fighting gender-based violence should be a comprehensive social programme. Let us empower women and encourage them to say: nothing is to be done about me without my consent,” he said.
The President said his government passed the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act aimed at ending early marriages so that girls earn education; increased the national budget allocation for child protection programmes by 14 percent and building community technical colleges to empower girls and women.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka commended Malawi for being among member countries that have achieved in HeForShe initiatives.
“Malawi took a bold step in 2015 and passed Marriage law at 18. With that law, activists, government, chiefs and several other stakeholders are working in solidarity to protect girls from entering early marriages,” said Ngcuka. n