Speaker calls for more fight against gender-based violence

The recent spate of violence against women and girls needs our collective interventions to deal with.

Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara has called for continued joint efforts in the fight against gender-based violence in Malawi. Hara said this when she presided over the opening of a Spotlight Initiative National High-level Meeting on Gender Related Laws organized by the Women Judges Association of Malawi (WOJAM) consortium in Lilongwe.

“The recent spate of violence against women and girls needs our collective interventions to deal with. The Executive, Judiciary and Legislature should all come together if we are to fight gender based violence,” said Hara.

She commended the commitments being made by the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) through the Spotlight Initiative, saying this shows gender-based violence is a global problem and that development partners are working tirelessly to eliminate it.

“Gender-based violence should not be tolerated. It’s time to speak out and strategize on how best we can eliminate it from the society. We must also think critically on how we handle survivors. We must provide extensive psycho-social support for them to deal with the mental torture.”

To this effect, Hara commended the Spotlight Initiative, through the WOJAM consortium, for carrying out mobile courts, saying this will allow more people to access justice within their communities.

Speaking earlier, the UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi, Maria Jose Torres, said even though there has been increased awareness of women and girls’ rights in the recent years, it is sad to see increased cases of violence against women and girls across all layers of society.

Torres said the Covid-19 pandemic has even exposed more Malawian women and girls to violence, along with millions of women and girls worldwide, hence the need for strategic ways to eliminate violence against women and girls.

UN Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres
UN Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres

“In Malawi, 13,000 cases of child marriages and 40,000 teenage pregnancies were registered between January and September this year. However, we cannot and must not blame Covid-19 alone. Violence against women and girls in Malawi is rooted in unequal gender power relations, structural inequalities and widespread discrimination, and we must end it,” said Torres.

The UN Resident Coordinator also said ensuring access to justice for women and girls and an enabling legal environment is an essential component in the elimination of gender based violence.

She said in this regard, Malawi’s  strong policy and legal framework on violence against women and girls and harmful practices is encouraging, as is the fact that the country has ratified most of the core UN human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action.

“Despite this, more still needs to be done. Ending impunity goes far beyond criminal laws and punishment. We know that women and girls living in poverty and with limited access to their basic rights are less likely to report and denounce violence,” said Torres.

The delegates to the National High-level Meeting on Gender Related Laws included the Attorney General, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Members of Parliament, officials from the Ministry of Gender and Ministry of local government, and members of the media, among others.

Written by
Nomsa Taulo
Communications Officer - Spotlight Initiative
Nomsa 3
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund