Malawi will take advantage of the forthcoming 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV) for the year 2021 to reflect on the progress the country has made in the fight against the vice over the past 30 years.
This year's commemoration marks the 30th anniversary of the widely acclaimed global campaign.
Speaking in Lilongwe during the second preparatory meeting for the national launch of the 16 days of activism against GBV for the year 2021, Principal Gender and Development Officer in the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Joseph Kalelo, disclosed that the launch will take place on 25 November in Nkhata Bay.
The preparatory meeting received financial support from Partners in Health (PIH) Malawi, which is locally known as Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU).
PIH Malawi is a member of the National Taskforce (NTF), a multi-stakeholder taskforce preparing for the national launch.
Kalelo assured that NTF will conduct an all-inclusive 16 days of activism against GBV campaign, which befits a 30th anniversary and enables Malawians to take stock of their efforts against GBV.
"The 16 days of activism against GBV is a climax of the efforts and initiatives we do as a nation collectively with all the different stakeholders in a quest to end GBV. At this year's national launch, we expect highest level of participation in terms of people gracing the event.
"We anticipate decision makers, policy makers, the public, community influencers and everyone who matters. This will lead to greater understanding and unity of purpose in winning the battle against GBV," said Kalelo, who is also the national coordinator for GBV programs in Malawi.
Despite the 16 days of activism against GBV over the past 30 years, GBV cases have remained high in Malawi, with the National Statistical Office reporting four years ago that one in three Malawian women and girls between the age of 15 and 49 experiences physical or sexual violence.
But Kalelo said the campaigns have benefited Malawi for, at least, they have been able to "break" what he described as "a culture of silence on reporting GBV".
"The campaigns have raised awareness among people. They now know what constitutes GBV and come out to report it. They know what to do and where to report," he said.
Adolescent and women health specialist for PIH Malawi, Jimmy Harare, concurred with Kalelo, adding that these campaigns must be emphasized indeed in order to raise even more awareness among people.
Harare further said PIH Malawi considers reduction or elimination of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) as one of the key issues in its programing, hence supporting preparations towards the holding of this year's national launch of the 16 days of activism against GBV.
"We thought being part of the core activities of the campaign, is crucial for us. We need to come together as stakeholders and address these issues for the government alone cannot manage everything. We need to raise more awareness on the negative impact of SGBV or GBV that is happening to women, girls and even men," said Harare.
Malawi will commemorate this year's 16 days of activism against GBV under a localized theme: Orange Malawi; End violence Against Women and Girls, Act Now.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, which is Human Rights Day.
It was started by activists at the inaugural Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women's Global Leadership.
It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.