First Lady Gertrude Mutharika has underscored the importance of girls education as key to lessening myriad challenges, such as poverty and unemployment, among women.
It is against this background that the First Lady has embarked on various initiatives, such as the September 2 Buy Malawi Fashion Show and luncheon at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, to raise funds for projects aimed at educating and keeping vulnerable girls in school.
Mutharika told Every Woman this week that Malawi needs painstaking efforts at individual, community and national levels to conquer vices that restrain women and girls from progressing in different spheres of their lives.
“Countries fail to develop partly because girls and women are not educated to take up jobs, including other economic enterprises, to improve their lives as well as their communities,” said Mutharika.
She said women are catalysts for sustainable development, but barriers such as gender inequalities, child marriages and lack of access to education nip their contributions in the bud.
“I, personally, dream big for girls and women because I know they are catalysts for change. If they are empowered, it means shared responsibilities in our homes and communities. But we all need to rise above mediocrity to achieve a better Malawi. The little we can contribute can make a difference,” said Mutharika.
She said role-modelling was important, challenging other female achievers to inspire vulnerable girls to become like them.
Project coordinator for Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) Yamikani Banda noted that harmful cultural practices, gender disparities, poverty and poor pieces of education infrastructure, such as the lack of sanitary rooms, are some of the major contributing factors to poor promotion of girls’ education.
She said that some communities priotise the education of boys, looking down upon girls as mere brides-to-be.
Banda hailed the First Lady’s stand on promoting girls’ education.
“An empowered girl is likely to protect herself and make informed decisions pertaining to her health and future. The more girls are educated, the more the nation will benefit socially and economically,” said Banda.