President Joyce Banda has said the era of promoting women in Malawi has arrived, particularly with a woman running the country.
She was speaking on Tuesday at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre when she met representatives of the Muslim WomenÂ Â OrganisationÂ where she also gave the group K1 million (about $4 000).
Banda said her administration will not allow women to suffer or face any form of harassment.
The President was responding to concerns by the Muslim women articulated through their chairperson Fatima Ndaila.
She told Banda that Muslim women have been sidelined in many developmental and social aspects, including being denied employment.
Said Ndaila: â€œWe have a lot of educated youths who are staying idle because of lack of employment. Girls, in particular, face oppression or job denials because of the Islamic dressing of the head gear and long dresses (Hijab). We would like you, Madam, to intervene so that these girls get employed and be allowed to wear their gear in respect to our religion.
â€œMuslim women have a lot of expertise, professional qualifications and experience to assist your administration in various ways but are oppressed. We would like to assure you of our support and considerationâ€.
Banda said she was a typical example of what freedom of dressing entails after having made the choice to dress in the traditional zitenje and head gear which she has been wearing for 30 years.
Said Banda: â€œIf I can choose to wear what I want, what more with you that have to do it because of your religious beliefs? Let everyone be free to dress as they please because I do not believe that a particular kind of dressing interferes with work performance.â€
She also welcomed the women to join her poverty and hunger reduction initiative which she said will include the commercial growing of groundnuts, soya beans, pigeon peas and sunflower by women for their empowerment.