Lilongwe — Mrs. Graça Machel, the Founder of the Graça Machel Trust, and an international advocate for women and children, will be visiting Lilongwe - Malawi from 13th to 16th March, 2018 to hold meetings with Government Ministers, members of the parliament, the United Nations family of organisations, civil society, private business, youth and women's organisations to assess progress of the developmental programmes that the Trust runs in Malawi to improve the lives of women and children.
Through various trust-initiated networks which include the Network of the African Business Women (NABW), African Women in Agribusiness (AWAB), the Women in Media Network (WIMN), and the Graça Machel Scholars, the Trust runs a number of projects that seek to deepen women's participation in key sectors of the economy and accelerate women's economic advancement.
Mrs. Machel will attend a roundtable meeting on seed policy organised by AWAB the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) and CARE Malawi. The overall goal of the Malawi national seed policy is to provide clear guidelines for the development and promotion of the seed industry in order to raise agricultural productivity through the provision of sustainable, adequate and high-quality seeds. Civil society organisations feel that the seed policy is not flexible enough and undermines the rights of farmers to save, use and re-sow seeds from previous farming seasons, thus impinging on the rights of farmers to make valuable contributions to agricultural development and food security.
Increasing women's participation in the seed value chain is one of the projects the Trust has initiated in Malawi through the African Food Basket, which has the overall objective of strengthening seed production and distribution systems of affordable and drought tolerant soya, pigeon peas, cow peas and sugar bean breeder, basic and certified legume seeds in Malawi. The African Foodbasket Project is working with nine women-owned seed companies and just over one-thousand smallholder farmers to grow indigenous seeds. As part of this mission, Mrs. Machel will be visiting farmers in Nsundwe village to see the fruits of their labour and visit a number of agro-dealer shops that have been established through the project to increase women's access to markets.
Recognising the efforts of the Women Creating Wealth To recognize and celebrate the contribution of women to the growth and sustainability of African economies, Mrs. Machel will be the guest of honour at the graduation ceremony of 60 women that participated in a 12-month entrepreneurial skills training programme in Malawi for women-led businesses with high-growth potential. Through the Women Creating Wealth (WCW) Programme, business women are trained in how to better manage their businesses and how to access finance and markets to graduate their businesses from micro to small, small to medium and medium to large business enterprises.
Nutrition and Health The Trust is also active in Malawi in the areas of health and nutrition.
For years, the Trust has partnered with the Civil Society Organisation Nutrition Alliance (CSONA), a coalition of over 100 local and international non-governmental organisations working in nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive areas. CSONA coordinates Civil Society Organisations to take a leading role in influencing and supporting government efforts to elevate nutrition as a development priority. Mrs. Machel will hold meetings with CSONA and parliamentarians to track progress on the rollout of national nutrition interventions and government allocations for nutrition in the national budget.
Mrs. Machel is also expected to have a meeting with the Ministry of Health and youth representatives to discuss Reproductive, Maternal, New-born, Child and Adolescent Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) issues, within the context of how Malawi is incorporated the health-related sustainable development goals into its national development plans. Through its lead implementing partner, MaiKhanda, the Trust is supporting the creation of a social pact that will bring together government, the private sector and civil society to improve health infrastructure, health financing and social accountability to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable groups. Mrs Machel will also meet with the District Health Management Team and tour Bwaila Maternity Hospital.
Sustainable Development Goal In her role as an SDG Advocate, Mrs. Machel also be meeting with a number of United Nations representatives in Malawi and the private sector to assess Malawi's progress in implementing the sustainable development goals, more broadly. The Trust is a strong believer in the power of partnerships and the influential role that the private sector and development partners can play to empower women and children in Malawi and communities within their sphere of influence. Malawi is one of the Trust's priority countries where we would like to see these partnerships flourish and produce tangible, measurable results.
About Graça Machel Trust
The Graça Machel Trust is a Pan-African organisation that works across the continent to amplify women's economic and social policies, influence governance, and advocate for rights and advancement of women and children in Africa.
Through our Child Rights, Nutrition and Women's Rights programmes, the Graça Machel Trust seeks to work with our partners and networks in our focus countries and pioneer ways of engaging with people, institutions and organisations, in order to drive the transformation needed to achieve the country's development.