United Nations (UN) Women resident representative Clara Anyangwe says it is hopeful that the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) will give stakeholders an opportunity to spur action towards ending violence against women and girls.
Speaking at Capital Hill in Lilongwe yesterday during a press briefing to highlight the launch of the campaign that starts tomorrow until December 10, she observed that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, reports indicated that violence against women, girls and children was one of the most widespread violations of human rights in Malawi and the world.
Said Anyangwe: “As Malawi implemented measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, survivors of GBV found it harder to seek help and access support services. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and struggling to find livelihood opportunities with more vulnerability to sexual exploitation, abuse, forced marriage and harassment.”
She was optimistic that this year’s campaign will be an opportunity for stakeholders to spark a renewed sense of urgency and bolster action towards violence against women and girls by ensuring that funding goes to essential services on GBV, among other interventions.
On her part, NGO-Gender Coordination Network chairperson Barbara Banda underlined the need for everyone to play their part.
“The theme under which we will be commemorating [the 16 Days of Activism] calls on everyone of us to play their part; it is a shared responsibility.
“It is a call for global action to increase awareness, galvanise advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations in the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls,” she said.
Minister of Gender, Child Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati further emphasised the need for survivors to report GBV incidences, highlighting that the culture of silence defeats efforts to contain the vice.
“As you may all be aware, GBV, especially sexual abuse of women, girls and children, has now reached alarming levels in Malawi. Therefore, addressing the problem requires joint efforts so that we achieve a world that is free from violence,” she said.
A statement issued by the ministry yesterday, signed by Principal Secretary Roselyn Makhumula, states that the minister will preside over the launch of the campaign at Makawa Primary School ground, Traditional Authority Mponda in Mangochi.
This year’s campaign will be held under the theme Unite to End GBV: Prevent, Report, Respond, Fund.
Among others, the theme calls for action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the Covid-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.
During the campaign, the ministry in collaboration with civil society organisations and other partners, will carry out a number of activities aimed at ending GBV.