Ireland Ambassador to Malawi, Gerry Cunningham, says it may be possible that Malawi is registering little progress in the fight against gender based violence because of lack of accurate data.
Navicha and Cunningham at the high level meeting A performance at the high level meeting Navicha with a woman trader in the market
Cunningham has said this amid concerns that so many incidences of gender based violence in Malawi, especially those happening in the work places, are not being reported.
He spoke Friday in the Capital Lilongwe during a high level engagement meeting on this year's 16 days of activism against gender based violence being commemorated under the theme: Ending Gender Based Violence in the World of Work.
The meeting, which was graced by Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha, was organized by the Malawi Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence which comprises eight organisations including Action Aid Malawi, Oxfam Malawi, Self Help Africa, Trocaire and Concern Worldwide.
"It is, therefore, important that the consortium took this piece of work to do some research to be able to present the findings to those responsible for implementing regulations, policies and programs in order for them to do the right things in fighting gender based violence," said Cunningham.
The Ireland Ambassador noted that it is hard to convince policy implementers and resource persons to intervene on an issue in the absence of data.
"We need the data to prove that gender based violence is actually a core issue in the country. We need to demonstrate how it is affecting people in different ways, that it is having a much bigger tore on the lives of families and communities.
"We need the evidence to convince Parliament to put more money into the budget in order to support key ministries and departments and other stakeholder's interventions in fighting gender based violence," he said.
Cunningham added that it is important to consider the work place for women in Malawi as anything from office, to the domestic home, to the farm and to the market place in order to establish the full scale of work place gender based violence.
He said Malawi needs to create discussion and awareness of the issue of gender based violence and particularly how it is affecting women in the work place.
Chairperson for Malawi Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence, Assan Golowa, who is also the Executive Director for Action Aid Malawi, concurred with Cunningham, adding that his consortium has organized a number of activities in the 16 days of activism including gender based violence awareness campaigns.
And taking her turn, Minister Navicha said Malawi has all the gender legislation in place to protect women against gender based violence but her ministry was failing to disseminate them especially in rural areas because of staff and resource constraints.
Later, Navicha toured Lilongwe flea market in a surprise visit to women involved in small scale businesses in order to hear their problems.
Navicha slowly walked on the narrow paths through the squatter shops while smiling, waving at people and rubbing shoulders and shaking hands with them and sitting on the dust to talk to a few women.
Scores of traders emerged from their shops and cheered in amazement at the rare display of humility by a cabinet minister.
"As we are commemorating these 16 days of activism against gender based violence, I came to be with my fellow women here in order to hear their concerns and views about how government can help them," Navicha told journalists who accompanied her on the visit.