Lilongwe — pic by Daniel Namwini
16 days of activism has revealed that violence and harassment towards women and young girls in the world of work remains most tolerated violations of female workers human rights.
This revelation has been made during 16 days of activism whereby government through the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare launched Ndiulula (Won't be silent) campaign aimed at breaking the silence of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in the country.
The campaign was held under theme "End gender based violence in the world of work and tertiary institution" from November 26 to December 10, 2018 in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mchinji and Mponela-Dowa districts.
In an interview, Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) Deputy Director, Jessie Chingoma said although both men and women experience gender based violence (GBV), unequal status and power relations leave ladies vulnerable both formal and informal place of work.
She pointed out that Demographic Health Survey (DHS) has highlights that 41 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 experience either physical or sexual violence.
On the contrary, 96 per cent of GBV incidences are perpetrated by men.
"Over 40 per cent of women experience violence in any form seek help or disclose the malpractices while three out of 10 reported cases handled by MCTU are centered on GBV in their working places," she disclosed.
During 16 days of activism, media had interactive session with women farmers, electoral stakeholders, women in business including cross border traders and sex workers among others to increase public awareness on GBV in their working places and strengthen coordinated its response mechanisms.
Lilongwe Central Market, women in business representative, name withheld, said sexual harassment in their working places is extremely high due to bad habit of their male bosses who forced them to exchange sex with them to be promoted at work.
"Many young women accept to exchange sex with their bosses because they fear to lose their jobs," she said.
The Businesslady added that they observed that lack of knowledge and reporting or grievance handling mechanisms promote non-reporting of GBV incidences to them in the world of work.
A member for Mchinji Coalition of Women Farmers (COWFA) who opted to be anonymous, she said as women farmers they face a lot of challenges when selling their farm inputs at Kamwendo Trading Centre in the district.
"Men buyers expect sexual favour from us if they want to buy our farm produces with high amount of money within a short period of time, and if we ignore to exchange sex with them they don't buy it," she said.
She added that although young women experience violence more than men in the world of work, existing evidence points out non-reporting to law enforcers as a major issue.
Action Aid Women's Rights Thematic Manager, Chikumbutso Ngosi said Ndiulula campaign was underpinned by global objectives on descent work and national commitments on gender equality and rights of women.
"The initiative work towards building individual and collective voice of women, girls and their different allies to break the longstanding culture of fear, silence and normalization of violence especially sexual harassment in various working places," she added.
Ngosi pointed out that the campaign was designed to achieve an equitable and conducive world of work in which violence against women and girls is not tolerated and accepted in Malawi.
Assistant Director of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Joseph Kazima said government is committed to the promotion and protection of women's rights and the achievement of gender equality and women empowerment evident by accession to various international and regional instruments.