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International Women’s Day: An opportunity for Women’s Empowerment

By Martin Mbewe

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Throughout history, women have been influential in driving societal progress, whether in politics, sciences, athletics, or the arts.

Their contributions span a wide array of fields, including scientific discoveries, literature and arts, social and political activism, medicine and healthcare, technology and innovation, humanitarian work, education and academia, business as well as entrepreneurship.

Notable examples of women who have made significant contributions include Joyce Banda, the former President of Malawi, who served from 2012 to 2014, becoming the first female president of the country.

She implemented various policies that promoted gender equality, economic development, and social welfare during her tenure.

Another figure is Wangari Maathai from Kenya, an environmentalist and political activist who founded the Green Belt Movement.

This initiative focused on tree planting, conservation, and women’s rights, earning Maathai the distinction of being the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.

These contributions, amongst those of countless other women, have pushed societies forward and have challenged traditional gender norms, thereby expanding opportunities for women worldwide.

Every year on March 8th, we commemorate the achievements of women under International Women’s Day, with this year’s theme being ‘Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality through Economic Empowerment.’

In Malawi, several companies and organizations are dedicated to empowering women and girls through various initiatives.

Tingathe Malawi is among them, co-founded by Sarah Lindeire, who serves as the Country Representative, the organization collaborates with peri-urban communities to empower young people, women in small businesses, and school-going children with various skills, including vocational training, enabling them to thrive in their communities.

One notable beneficiary of Tingathe Malawi’s initiatives is Ruth Macheso from Kauma Community in Lilongwe.

Having graduated from Tingathe’s vocational training program in Tailoring and Fashion Design, Ruth overcame socioeconomic challenges, including poverty and unemployment.

Through the vocational training she received, she established her workshop, specializing in making clothing and stylish bags.

Reflecting on her life, Ruth acknowledges the impact of vocational education and the empowerment she received from Tingathe Malawi, which enables her to contribute to the development of her community and country.

Ruth’s story echoes the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day as it stresses how economic empowerment, particularly through vocational education and training, can change women’s lives and contribute to gender equality.

The government of Malawi is commendably advancing gender equality, economic empowerment, and protection among women through legal frameworks, education initiatives, economic empowerment programs, agricultural support, healthcare services, political participation measures, gender mainstreaming in policies, and partnerships with stakeholders.

These efforts aim to address disparities and enhance opportunities for women’s advancement.

Furthermore, like-minded organizations continue to collaborate with the government in advocating and implementing development initiatives through a multi-stakeholder approach. This approach fosters partnerships that drive sustainable development and gender equality.

Echoing sentiments on the importance of women’s empowerment is Lizie Lifa, an instructor at Lilongwe Technical College who teaches Plumbing.

Lizie’s life is an example of the power of economic empowerment. She received support from her father to pursue a career in vocational training, overcoming stereotypes and becoming a successful college instructor.

Her experience showcases how economic empowerment can break gender stereotypes and contribute to women’s advancement, similarly resonating with the theme of International Women’s Day 2024.

As we celebrate this day, this year, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering women and supporting their dreams.

History has shown that women are great achievers, and with widespread support, they can continue to drive development and progress forward.

The writer is a Development Communication specialist, based in Lilongwe, Malawi.

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