By Silvester Kumwenda MANA

First Lady Madam Monica Chakwera has called for concerted efforts in ending various forms of discrimination, violence and segregation resulting from gender-based differences.

She made the call Monday at Dowa community ground during the launch of Unifying Campaign Malawi, which is being spearheaded by the Organisation of African First Lady’s for Development (OAFLAD).

The campaign was launched earlier this year in Democratic Republic of Congo with an aim of fighting various forms of discrimination like gender inequality and economic empowerment, gender-based violence, health, and education.

Madam Chakwera said despite various interventions the country is not doing well in addressing some forms of gender-based discrimination.

“For example, there are alarming statistics in early girl child marriages. Girls as young as 15 years old are getting married and we are second with the worst statistics in Africa. Young girls and boys are dropping out of school, and we are seeing continued discrepancies in economic opportunities. This must change.

“The launch today marks the beginning of a significant journey in bridging the gap between boys and girls, women and men in Malawi. But the change cannot be achieved by one person or OAFLAD. We require all of us to join hands. That is why I would like to urge you all to support this campaign,” she said.

She lamented that school enrollment in public secondary schools is only at 15 percent with girls accounting to only 34 percent. She then asked parents and guardians to make sure their children especially girls remain in school saying this can help empower girls towards economic independence.

“Traditional leaders must also put in place deliberate bylaws that can help in promoting girl education and end various forms of gender-based atrocities,” she said.

Deputy Executive Director of Family Health Services Chiwawa Nkhoma, speaking on behalf of all organisations fighting inequalities said the campaign, which will run untill November 2024, will also improve awareness on access to Sexual Health Reproductive Services (SRHS).

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