Malawi reflects on women’s effective participation

September 5, 2019

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Hivos Women Empowered for Leadership(WE4L) co-hosted a one-day National Gender Learning Conference at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe Malawi on 31 July 2019. The learning conference themed: “Towards an intersectional approach in the advancement of Gender equality in Malawi”. The conference brought together several key stakeholders which included the NGO Gender Coordination Network, the Ministry of Gender, local Civil Society Organisation’s, International NGO’s and grassroots organisations.

The learning conference provided an opportunity for a critical reflection on the state of women’s effective participation in Malawi. The event was graced by the Deputy Minister of Gender Hon Grace Kwelepeta.

Following the welcome and introduction in the main Auditorium participants were split into Break-Away Sessions in the following three Thematic Areas:

  1. Thematic Area 1: Agriculture and Women Economic Empowerment
  2. Thematic Area 2: Gender Based Violence and Social Norms
  3. Thematic Area 3: Women in Leadership and Political Participation

Thematic Area 3, provided a platform for participants to share successes and lessons learnt from the just ended May elections. Women Empowered for Leadership(WE4L) through its partners got a chance to share about their work. In this session, other organisations that also presented included Oxfam which presented on the successes and lessons learnt on the “Women’s Manifesto 50:50 Campaign” and Trench Media Group which presented a paper on” Communication and its impact on the Women Empowerment movement” and provided recommendations for going forward.

The day was buzzing with activity as several women entrepreneurs had stalls outside the Main Auditorium showcasing their wares. During tea-breaks and lunch, participants had the opportunity to go through the stalls and support the women buy purchasing what caught their eye.

The day ended with a plenary session in the main auditorium where all the participants convened to discuss the key learnings and provide recommendations for future programming Below is a summary of Key Learnings and recommendations from the discussions:

  • The ground work for the next elections needs to start now by lobbying and advocating for the implementation of the quota, holding Government and Political Parties to account;
  • It is important to keep the momentum of the Women’s Manifesto 50:50 campaign going by having gender sensitisation workshops and consultations with key stakeholders, religious and cultural leaders, community leaders and the general public;
  • It is of value to use an intersectional approach when programming, by including all groups of women, i.e rural women as well as tapping into the 62% youth population and encourage young women to participate leadership positions and elections;
  • It is crucial to engage the media and creative sector to amplify women leader’s visibility
  • Conducting perception studies on women leaders will help inform our programming


Michel Mzondo, the WE4L METL &L represented Hivos together with partner representatives from Governance, Gender, Justice & Development Centre(GGJDC) , Tovwirane and Women’s Legal Resources  Centre(WOLREC).