By: Newton Kalua

The First Lady of the Republic of Malawi, Her Excellency Madame Monica Chakwera launched #WeAreEqual Unifying campaign yesterday, 11 September, 2023 at Traditional Authority Msakambewa in Dowa district.

The campaign was launched under the theme: “We are equal: closing the gender gap in education, health and economic empowerment in Malawi.” The campaign is to be championed by First Ladies from all African countries under the umbrella of Organisation of African First Lady’s for Development (OAFLAD), whose inception was in Democratic Republic of Congo in June, 2023.

Speaking at the launch, Her Excellency, the First Lady said the launch is significant to close the gap between boys, girls, women and men in Malawi regarding the major life opportunities in health, education, gender and economic empowerment.

She lamented for Malawi being on top two marrying underage girls even to older men. She said in Malawi 42% of girls under the age of 18 are getting married, some even at the age of 15. She condemned this, saying girls, just like boys need to be kept in school, they can marry and have children after being educated. Early marriages lead to early pregnancies which are leading to life losses and widening the poverty gap.

The launch was patronized by Government Ministers, Local Leaders, Members of Parliament, Members of the Clergy, Donors, Civil Society Organisations, boys, girls, women and men, among others. All were called to action in making the theme for the campaign to be translated into life changes.

Her Excellency passing through schoolgirls placards

Her Excellency appreciated the following organisations: Shaping Our Future Foundation (SOFF); White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRASM), Family Health Services (FHS) and Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM), among others, for the technical and financial support towards the launch.

WRASM Executive Director, Elimase Kamanga Gama, who was among those that took a leading role in organizing this launch, said the campaign is so much in line with the organisation’s objectives and that of their donors, including PROPEL Health project, who are championing equal rights in health and economic empowerment.

Kamanga taking Her Excellency through pavilions

She further said that as CSOs, the launch has given them additional fuel especially because of the First Lady’s call on chiefs to work together with OAFLAD and CSOs in making this a reality.

Malawi becomes the second country to launch this campaign within OAFLAD.