United Nations resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres Macho says there is a need to accelerate progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets which are lagging behind such as addressing youth unemployment.
Speaking at a reception on Wednesday night to commemorate United Nations Day which falls on 24 October, the UN envoy said much as Malawi is making strides in achieving the SDGs, there are areas which still need a lot of work.
Some notable achievements that Torres Macho pointed out included the decline of the population of the ultra-poor, reduction of stunting rate for under-five children, declining of maternal and child deaths as well as achieving gender parity in primary education.
She said: “But acceleration is required in other targets such as the proportion of the population below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day is at 71.4 percent, more progress is needed to address youth unemployment, which is negatively affecting livelihoods, especially for young people, and land needs to be put under irrigation to ensure sustainable food production.”
Torres said SDGs and inequalities could not be addressed if it leaves behind women who are key players and the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections present an opportunity for increasing women’s participation in the affairs of the country.
“While the United Nations recognises the need to protect and promote the right of women to participate in the electoral process, it is important to keep in mind that electoral rights mean much more than simply the right to vote. Freedom of expression, assembly and association, and the freedom to take part in the conduct of public affairs, hold public office at all levels of government, and participate in the formulation of government policy all matter in this regard,” she said.
On his part, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said the efforts of ordinary men, women and youths towards achieving SDGs should be applauded because their actions directly benefit many Malawians.
“Poverty reduction and development should mean ensuring that lives of the majority of people are made better not just having good streets in Lilongwe or three or four cars. Poverty reduction should be about ensuring the poorest of the poor gradually attain better lives for themselves,” he said, thanking the UN for helping the Malawi Government to do this.
The UN Day commemoration was spiced with music and cultural performances from Salama Africa, a group of young refugees, and Music Crossroads youth.
The UN also beamed a video of the efforts of ordinary Malawians in achieving the 17 SDGs in various parts of the country.