Malawi Congress Party (MCP) publicity secretary and rights activist Jessie Kabwila has said girls should not aim for marriage but seek an education to empower themselves.
She was speaking in an interview at a reception in Lilongwe on Wednesday to commemorate Women History Month which the United States of America celebrates annually in March.
Kabwila, known for the fight for academic freedom and land rights, is this year’s nominee of the United States (US) Secretary of State International Women of Courage Award which is given for exemplifying exceptional courage and leadership in advocating human rights, women’s equality and social progress at a personal risk.
The academic-cum-politician said it is due to education and training that she was able to get the recognition from governments such as the US and fellow academics.
“School is what will cushion a woman when she is hungry and she doesn’t have a title to earn respect of others, especially men. I get respect because of this status not because I am married,” she said.
Kabwila said when she decided to embark on a political career and contest as a member of Parliament, she did not listen to negative comments about her marital status which people claimed would work against her run for political leadership.
US Ambassador Jeanine Jackson said Kabwila was selected because of her long history of fighting for academic freedom and women’s rights.
“I would like to present Jessie with a certificate symbolising the nomination. Through her courageous efforts in 2011, Dr Kabwila has taken the role of symbolic defender of Malawians personal and political rights, including freedom of expression, academic freedom, gender equality and social justice,” Jackson said.
The embassy also honoured 11 other women for their achievements in the areas of agriculture, engineering, health and education.