The African Union (AU) has urged Malawi and seven other countries implementing the Spotlight Initiative to apply practical solutions in ending violence against women and girls (Evawg) and harmful practices.
AU Commission director of health, humanitarian affairs and social development Cisse Mariama Mohamed said this in a statement issued on June 18 on the sidelines of a two-day Annual Continental Coordination Platform for the eight member States.
She emphasised the need for the countries namely, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, to take a holistic approach to shift social norms and narratives that contribute to gender violence.
She said: “Let us all join hands as we are implementing this initiative to stop this behaviour of violence against girls and women by embracing the potential of male involvement and by mothers teaching their sons and daughters that violence must not be tolerated or seen as normal.”
AU Commission’s Women, Gender and Youth Directorate acting director Victoria Maloka observed that the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened gender-based violence.
The Spotlight Initiative is run by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) with the aim of ending gender violence and harmful practices.
In an interview, UN resident coordinator in Malawi Maria Jose Torres Macho, who recently visited some project sites in Mzimba, said there is need to bring services like protection centres closer to people so that when women and girls easily access them.
She said: “We are seeing incredible results in the number of girls that have been brought back to school from early marriages, criminal cases being taken to court and communities discussing these issues.
“If anything, the Spotlight Initiative has helped to create a space for communities and people can start making initiatives aimed at ending violence against women and girls which is fundamental for the development of Malawi.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati has urged law enforcers to bring to book all culprits involved in the vices.
She said: “We are asking the partners if they can meet all women legislators so that they can popularise it, empower girls in education, but also sexual and reproductive health rights. They will have a voice which will lead to ending the violence.”
The Spotlight Initiative regional programme in Africa provides a regional response to addressing sexual gender-based violence, harmful practices and sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a focus on empowering women’s movements.
The two-day meeting, organised by the AU Commission in collaboration with UN Women, had delegates from ministries of Gender and Women’s Affairs and Justice, and civil society organisations.