Plan International Chief Executive Officer, Ann-Birgitte Albrectsen, has expressively stated that her organization is delighted with Malawi's efforts in gender transformative programmes that promote the rights of children, especially girls.
Albrectsen said her organization is particularly proud and happy to be associated with Malawi's chiefs because "your work enables us to touch the behavior and norms, the patriarchy, the systems and many other things that really hold the girls back in Malawi."
She made the remarks at a bilateral meeting with Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Cecilia Chazama, on the sidelines of the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) in New York, United States of America on Wednesday.
"For me, Malawi has always stood out in the collaboration that we have with the chiefs as a perfect model for what we call gender transformative programs, not just gender aware or gender responsive programs but initiatives that transform societies and will make what we do today not something that we have to keep doing for the next 50 years," said Albrectsen.
"I am very proud that we are able to provide the kind of support that we have provided. I am very proud of the collaboration that is there between Malawi and Plan," she said.
Albrectsen added that she was grateful for the work the Malawi Government is doing with traditional leaders, noting that it is through these efforts that a lot of work is being done especially in the elimination of child marriages.
In her remarks, Chazama applauded Plan International for improving the quality of life for children and communities in Malawi in various sectors.
"I am grateful that since your organization started working in Malawi, the main objective has been to improve the quality of life for children, their families and communities in the areas of health, water, sanitation, hygiene, child protection and participation, education and food security and also helping vulnerable children, youth and their families to break the cycle of poverty," said Chazama.
She also hailed Plan International for aligning its activities with government's vision for children of Malawi.
Chazama informed the Plan International CEO that Malawi has approved the National Children's Policy which will coordinate and harmonise all child-related policies in Malawi and also lead to the development of child protection and participation strategies.
In response to the Minister's request for more support, Albrecsten said Plan is currently re-thinking its global strategies to ensure that there is seed money available to sustain activities that are being implemented such as scholarships for vulnerable girls to attend universities, funds for skills development and support for girls that are out of school.
Also speaking at the event, Senior Chief Chikumbu of Mulanje, where Plan International is implementing a programme, thanked the organization for the work it does in her area especially in ending child marriages.
She disclosed that through the use of set bylaws, she has managed to annul 2, 229 child marriages in her area.
"There is so much work that we are doing through the bylaws. And it is through bylaws that we are seeing a lot of progress. Now any village head who breaks the laws in his or her area by registering child marriages has to be disciplined.
"As I am talking, I have suspended about three village heads. Out of the 2,229 marriages I have annulled, 1800 children have gone back to school and 8 require support for their tertiary education studies," explained Chief Chikumbu.
Chazama was also accompanied to the meeting by the First Deputy Speaker of Malawi Parliament Dr. Esther Mcheka Chilenje, Principal Secretaries for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Erica Maganga, and Civic Education and Community Development Dr. Ivy Luhanga, TA Khongoni of Lilongwe and other government officials.