Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati has commended Oxfam in Malawi for fighting against gender-based violence (GBV) and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She was speaking in Mulanje on Tuesday during the handover of five motorcycles and 30 bicycles donated by Oxfam to address mobility challenges faced by social workers in Mulanje and Phalombe.
The minister said Oxfam is complementing government’s efforts in fighting against GBV and in advancing women empowerment in the country.
She said: “As government, we recognise the support Oxfam has rendered during the Covid-19 pandemic, they also empower women to be leaders so as to fight GBV in their respective communities and end child marriages.”
Kaliati acknowledged that Oxfam spent over K1.6 billion on Covid-19 response and that it has played a crucial role in ensuring that women hold leadership positions and participate in decision-making processes.
Said the minister: “Oxfam also played an active role in the 50:50 Campaign before and after elections. Today’s donation of bicycles is commendable because the equipment will help communities effectively respond to GBV and to end early marriages.”
In her remarks, Oxfam country director Lingalireni Mihowa said the organisation is working with female members of Parliament (MPs) , chiefs, and other local leaders in humanitarian response.
She said Oxfam made the donation following reports that girls and women were victims of various forms of abuse including GBV, early marriages and teen pregnancies during the Covid-19 period.
Said Mihowa: “They asked us if we could intervene and help with bicycles so that they could be following up on cases and also asked for megaphones to disseminate GBV related messages and messages on Covid-19 prevention.”
On her part, Mulanje South East MP Naomi Kilekwa, whose area received a motorcycle and five bicycles, a megaphone and Covid-19 protective materials, said her area has registered many cases of early marriages, teen
pregnancies during the pandemic.
Senior Chief Mabuka said traditional leaders are committed to working with government and other partners to end child marriages and GBV to allow girls and young women complete their education.
Mulanje district social welfare officer Martha Mkisi also acknowledged Oxfam’s role saying since the outbreak of Covid-19 the district has registered 986 cases of child marriages and 856 teen pregnancies.
She said: “Now we will be able to go around the district following up cases and sensitizing communities.”
During the event, another organisation, Ipas, donated 25 boxes of surgical gloves, 25 boxes of face masks and three five-litre containers of disinfectants to be used by child protection workers.