United States (US) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said women are a very important part of Malawiâ€™s development and that the country has a bright future if it invests in the education of children, especially girls.
Clinton said this at Lilongwe Girls Secondary School, one of the places she toured during her visit to the country yesterday.
Lilongwe Girls is hosting a week-long Camp Glow, which is run by US Peace Corps Volunteers aimed at encouraging young women to become active citizens.
Clad in a purple caftan that went down to her knees, black slacks (trousers) and flat black shoes, Clinton smiled gracefully as she entered the Lilongwe Girls Secondary School hallâ€”surrounded by heavy security detailâ€”to meet the crowd that had waited patiently for the most powerful women in the world.
She went straight to take a seat that was strategically positioned beside the podium, as she waited for Anna Nkhata, a 16-year-old Camp Glow member from Tukombo Girls Secondary School in Nkhata Bay, to speak on behalf of her group in welcoming Clinton to the hall.
Anna spoke confidently, making everyone appreciate why she was chosen for the role.
She said the girls were proud to be striving for equal rights in society, with Clinton as their role model.
She made the Secretary of State laugh when she called on her fellow Camp Glow girls to shout for Clinton in unison: “Shine, Girl, Shine!”
Clinton hailed the Camp Glow initiative for providing girls with role models and imparting skills in them which, she said, would last a lifetime.
“Growing up, I had role models. But my biggest role model was my mother. She instilled in me good values, including the importance of education,” Clinton said.
She said Malawian girls are lucky to have President Joyce Banda as a role model.
She noted that the US is supporting Malawi in many areas, including HIV and Aids, family planning, safe motherhood and development, among other things.
Clinton hailed Malawians for choosing democracy, saying it shows the kind of people they are and “what kind of government and economy” they want to have.
One of the girls from the Camp Glow rose to hand her a chitenje (wrap-around), for which the US Secretary of State asked for help to put on. The girls happily helped Clinton wrap the chitenje around her waist and then held on to her in a big hug as photographers clicked their cameras.
Looking more Malawian in her chitenje, Clinton also invited ministers for a group photograph, after which she went around shaking hands with the audience members.