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The Women’s Movement Manifesto (WOMAN) will host Malawi’s first ever Women’s Assembly at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Monday 5th of November 2018.

Speaking during a press conference organised by the Movement at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe, Principal Secretary in Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Esmie Kainja said that the Women’s Assembly is a platform where women from all walks of life will be united by their common opportunities and challenges in order to shape the future of women in Malawi. She said the assembly resonates well with Government agenda of promoting the rights of women in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SADC and AU protocols on gender among others.

“In 1995, we adopted a constitution with the bill of rights that is clear on equal rights at all the levels of politics; education and the market economy.” Said Kainja

She stated that Since 2000, Malawi has enacted several gender friendly laws such as the Gender Equality Act (2013); Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act (2015), Trafficking in Persons Act (2015), Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (2006) and Deceased Estates Act (2011) among many others. All these laws are there to guarantee the rights of women and girls at all the levels.

She added that Malawi needs a strong Women’s Assembly to complement government efforts and to hold all stakeholders accountable on gender results. She further said that it is for this reason that the government in collaboration with the civil society organisations in Malawi is bringing women together to form a sustainable front to strengthen women’s voices.

Kainja said that the Ministry will support the Women’s Manifesto Movement adding that the Ministry expects that the Women’s Platform will complement existing institutional establishments such as Women Parliamentary Caucus and Women Councillors Caucus in advancing interests of women. She indicated that the platform will also advance advocacy, lobbying and implementation of laws, policies and programmes and will create a safe space for women in Malawi to deliberate issues that affect their lives

In her remarks, the Executive Director of WORLEC, Maggie Kathewera Banda, stated the major outcome of the Women’s Assembly will be a Women’s manifesto for Malawi. She also specified that the Women’s manifesto is a document which will set out critical issues of concern to women in Malawi and stipulate women’s voices, rights and aspirations with regard to what leaders should be addressing on women’s rights issues.

She mentioned that the Women’s manifesto was developed as a result of concerns about the insufficient attention given to critical issues affecting women such as; under-representation of women in politics, policy and decision-making levels and in public life in general among others. She added that the Manifesto will act as a mechanism to draw leaders’ attention to such concerns.

Kathewera-Banda emphasized that the manifesto will act as a guiding tool to all women in their efforts of advocating for their advancement in different sectors of our society. The manifesto will assist women to hold bearers accountable at all levels including political, public and private sector, Non-state actor and religious leaders.

The Assembly will be presided over by the Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Hon Dr Jean A.N. Kalilani andwill bring together 200 women representatives from different sectors and regions of our country.