‘Women empowerment essential for country’s development’- Norway Ambassador

By Emmanuel Moyo

Ambassador of Norway to Malawi, Steinar Hagen has underscored the relevance of promoting women in Malawi saying it is essential for the country’s economic, political and social development.

Hagen made these remarks at Hangarawe in the area of Senior Chief Wasambo on Thursday as he was appreciating how Women Empowerment Project whose implementing partner was Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) under United Nations (UN) Women with support from Norwegian Government was ran in Karonga from 2018 to 2020.

In an interview, Hagen described the project as satisfying and a way to go for the development of the nation.
He said: “When women come into the economic, social and political activities, the country moves forward, so the project is very impressing because I have seen that everyone is working towards this goal and the testimonies from ladies who participated in politics are so impressing.”

He has since pointed out that there is need to get the women participation and representation percentage up from where it is.
“We have heard that now women are able to participate in Village Development Committees (VDC) and Area Development Committees (ADC), so we need to get the percentage up as there is need for women to participate more because this is needed for the development of Malawi,” he said.

On her part, UN Women country representative to Malawi, Clara Anyangwe hailed Norwegian embassy and said there is progress towards empowering women while stressing that the environment is unfavourable.
“We really thank the Norwegian embassy for the support towards women empowerment and we are making progress though it is slow due to the unfavourable environment, such as negative social norms,” she said.
Commenting on the matter, Director of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Gender Community Development and Social Welfare, Alice Mkandawire described the project as a good initiative as women have been empowered and are now able to participate in different activities in communities.

Giving her testimony and experience, one of the women who contested as a councillor during the 2019 tripartite elections, Councillor for Nyungwe Ward in Karonga Nyungwe Constituency, Ethel Mwanza said having been enlightened on the ability to participate, she could not hastate.
“We learnt that we are capable agents of development in different communities in the country, so with an aim of developing my area, I decided to contest and I am now able to withstand any pressure from men,” she said.

From the trainings of the project, ADCs and VDCs have been able to engage in budget formulation using Gender Responsive Budgeting principles, 1 female councillor was elected in Karonga and other women are able to participate and represent others in different activities.