By Fatsani Gunya

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi has potential to be a world leader in fostering efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if inclusion is mainstreamed at all levels in society; government has said.

Minister of Gender, Children and the Elderly Patricia Kaliati made the sentiments on Monday, May 23, 2022 in the capital Lilongwe when she opened a four-day Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) global learning event which World Vision Malawi is hosting at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC).

Patricia Kaliati against complacency

Kaliati cited as key the need for mindset change in making strides towards development goals; arguing the country and the world at large can not grow its socio-economic sector with a “rigid mind”.

The Gender Minister added that world is getting more dynamic by each passing day and that mankind was doomed if it refuses to embrace modern methods of influencing positive change in society.

“Of course, we just have to modify the way we think and the way we do things as a people. Key to all this is gender mainstreaming.

“We need serious engagements on this if the country is to achieve gender equality and social inclusion at all levels. This starts today and it starts now. We need concerted efforts,” she said.

The event in Lilongwe has attracted experts from various World Vision International (Country Programmes) from  across the region.

It aims at taking stock of World Vision’s experiences and knowledge gained in integrating gender equality and social inclusion in different sector programming.

Of those that are attending the workshop include delegates from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Kenya, Indonesia, and Bangladesh; among others
“I am standing here as a proud Minister [of Gender] because World Vision Malawi is the one that’s leading in mainstreaming gender issues in its programing across the entire WVI impact areas in the region. I am told this is why the whole world has descended to Lilongwe to learn from us here; which is very commendable,” Kaliati said.

She however warned the country programme against complacency in implementing set projects whose impact, she said was for all to see especially in rural areas.   

“The fact that others have come from far and wide to learn from us means we may be doing a lot of things right in this aspect. But good is not good enough. Let’s get better and guard jealously the strides made so far lest we backslide. Let’s build on these victories as we  continue to inspire and change the world,” the Minister said.

As part of coming together, the workshop- the first time it has been held in the country, is also about sharing experiences, addressing issues of gender equality and social inclusion, enabling of networking, and knowledge exchange among practitioners, donors and policy makers.

Country Director for World Vision Malawi Francis Duwe concurred with Kaliati by saying  that mind-set change is one of the critical missing links for Malawi to attain the much needed development.

“Evidence on the ground has proved that for mind-set change to work, everyone involved in development works must understand and live gender equality and social inclusion,” he said.

Dube cited for an example Malawi’s decimal strides in socio-economic development since independence despite implementing different pro-poor interventions aimed at elevating people from poverty and yet the country remains in poor state.

His comments are backed by the Malawi Fifth Integrated Household Survey – IHS5 (2019-2020) summed up in the Malawi Poverty Report 2020 that states that nearly half of all Malawians live in poverty.

“It is therefore good news to note that recently the Malawi Government has started speaking mind-set change as a pathway towards change. This is evident through the various reforms happening in government ministries and departments in line with the 2063 Agenda.

“On our part, World Vision embarked on similar ambitious development endeavors under Livelihoods and Resilience Programme,” Dube explained.

To facilitate lasting change, and in pushing for sustainable development goals, World Vision has put Gender Equality and Social Inclusion at the heart of its interventions

This is evident under its Transforming Household Resilience in Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE) Project which targets transforming household gender dynamics and relations through positive behavioral change and perceptions at family and community levels.

The forum also stands to enable the participants understand some of the gaps that have also led to marginalization of women and how best can we continue to work as society; an area Malawi is said to have excelled in so far.

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