Government has applauded National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust for introducing free computer lessons to girls and women as part of its initiative to transform citizen participation and influence government decision-making.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday during commemoration of this year’s African Day on Decentralisation and Local Government, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa said Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) play a critical role in promoting active citizenship and participation in the society.
Nice district civic education officer (Lilongwe Urban) Hajira Ali told Nankhumwa and a delegation from the ministry that the organisation initiated free computer lessons to create civic empowerment among girls and women who rarely participate in social and geopolitical life of their societies.
Said Ali: “We believe that ICT can positively impact citizen-government engagement and be used as a tool to amplify citizens’ voices.”
She said over 300 women have already graduated in Lilongwe only, with 82 currently undergoing training.
Thandi Jere, one of the free computer training graduates, attested that ICT has helped citizens to participate, interact and share information through social media tools such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
“Using social media, we are able to share information on various issues, including governance and democracy. This shows that ICT has potential to influence social change in society,” said Jere.
Nankhumwa commended the initiative Nice has taken, saying it will empower women and improve their participation in decision-making processes.
“Government highly values the importance of ICT in the promotion of participatory democracy and good governance at all levels. I, therefore, commend Nice for the initiative,” said the minister.
Nice Trust, alongside Citizen Alliance (CA) and Malawi Local Government Association (Malga), worked with government in organising activities in commemoration of the day.
The day was commemorated under the theme Gender, Equity and Women Empowerment: Key for Achieving Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Nankhumwa admitted challenges are hindering the entrenchment of decentralisation and local governance at the grassroots, but he assured that government was working to address them so that Malawians are able to contribute to country’s development.
The African Day of Decentralisation, Local Governance and Local Development was adopted by African Union (AU) Heads of States and Government in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in January 2012. n