Govt urges chiefs to uphold rights of women

Chiefs have the capacity to resist the best practices in laws on the basic of preserving cultural practices beliefs, particularly, in Malawi the chiefs are the custodians of it.

Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Jean Kalilani said if they are adequately targeted, they can be a formidable and reliable partner in the implementation of the laws which uphold the rights of women and rights.

Kalilani made the remarks in Lilongwe Thursday, during the official opening of a two-day Dissemination of Gender Related Laws for the Paramount, Senior and Lady Chiefs’ workshop at Golden Peacock Hotel.

She said gender related laws such as the Gender Equality Act; the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act; the marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act; Trafficking in Persons Act; the Deceased Estates (wills, inheritance and Protection) Act; Child care, Protection and Justice Act among others.

“It is against this background that my ministry would like to engage Paramount Chiefs, Senior Chiefs, Traditional Authorities and all chiefs in the implementation of the gender laws,” said Kalilani.

Kalilani said the idea of the workshop was that they want the chiefs to understand their roles and effectively implement and cascade the laws to lower ranking chiefs and their subjects.

The Minister said, “My ministry appreciates that the chiefs can implement the laws through their own locally made by-laws. To complement the implementation of the acts, the ministry envisaged that it is proper to utilize the by-laws made by the chiefs.”

She said her ministry has partnered with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to mobilize the chiefs for this dissemination exercise at a higher level with financial and technical support from the UN family.

Kalilani said with support from UN family, the ministry has over the past few months been involved in the process of standardizing and mapping the bylaws with the view to ensure that they are aligned to the statutes and the provisions of the gender related laws.

She therefore urged the paramount chiefs, senior chiefs and traditional authorities to implement the national commitments on gender equality and women empowerment in order to accelerate inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth.

The UN Resident Coordinator Amakobe Sande commended the government for taking leadership to bring the chiefs together and discuss issues regarding their duties in their respective areas.

She said the meeting has come at the right time when government is implementing laws and ensuring that cultural practices are improved.

Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA