The Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, has challenged non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to devise pragmatic interventions for lifting underprivileged children out of poverty.
Kaliati made the call at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Monday when she opened a global learning event, which has been organized by the World Vision Malawi.
The event is being held under the theme 'Global Empowerment and Social Inclusion (GESI)' and has attracted delegates and dignitaries from 12 countries worldwide where World Vision implements its interventions.
Kaliati said time had come for governments and states to advance the rights of children in all forms.
She challenged that a country cannot achieve meaningful socioeconomic development when children continued being chained to trees just because they have a disability and their parents or guardians are ashamed of having the child seen in public.
"We all know that when God had created this world, he created it perfectly, and He even said, it is perfect. But sin by human beings brought in imperfections. No wonder, in this century we are still struggling with inhumanity such as; domestic violence, killing of people with albinism, women and girls being excluded from high paying jobs, the list is endless," said Kaliati.
She, however, expressed excitement that World Vision is integrating gender equality and social inclusion in its programming, stressing that this is key in achieving sustainable development.
The minister stressed that development can only be achieved where men and women are treating each other as equal partners.
"There is no meaningful development when people live in perpetual fear of being butchered just because they were born with albinism. Time has come for all of us to join hands, change our mindset and say enough is enough. If we want a changed world, we must be the first to change because change will not come from someone else or somewhere. Change starts in our mind-that is why it is called mindset change.
"If you touch your left chest, you will feel continuous beating of the heart. This means, mind-set change is a continuous process, when it stops, it is just like the heart has stopped, and we die. Let the heart of mind-set change keep on beating in each and every one of you, including those listening or watching through the media," she said.
Kaliati further commended World Vision Malawi for reaching out to 16, 000 households with training on gender equality and social inclusion besides providing 344 wheel chairs to the people with disabilities, 360 caps and 240 umbrellas for people with albinism all worth K13.9 million.
"Your organization is a great partner in complementing government efforts. Government with support from the able leadership of His Excellency, the President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera is keen on ensuring that gender equality and social inclusion is practiced in every sector. It is no wonder that the President received a prestigious award on gender equality from Generation Equality.
"We have all seen women in leadership position, examples are abundant but I can mention just a few: we have the Speaker of Parliament, The Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, senior officers in the military and police, women are also occupying top positions in ministries, government departments and parastatals," she narrated.
In his remarks, World Vision Malawi National Director Francis Dube expressed disappointment that despite implementing different pro-poor interventions designed to eliminate poverty since independence in 1963, Malawi remains in poor state.
Dube cited the Malawi Fifth Integrated Household Survey (IHS5 2019-2020), which is summed up in the Malawi Poverty Report 2020, which states that nearly half of all Malawians live in poverty.
He said his organization has noted that mindset change is one of the critical missing links for Malawi to attain the much needed development, especially now when we are talking of Agenda 2063.
"It is good news to note that recently the Malawi Government has started speaking mind-set change as a pathway towards change. This is evident through the various reforms happening in government ministries and departments. I am equally happy to announce that at World Vision, we embarked on similar ambitious development endeavours under Livelihoods and Resilience Programme," he said.
Dube added that under the programme, World Vision Malawi has a project called THRIVE, which means Transforming Household Resilience in Vulnerable Environments, which is targeting 16, 000 households.
"Evidence on the ground has proved that for mindset change to work, everyone involved in development works must understand and live gender equality and social inclusion. What does that mean? To facilitate lasting change, and in pushing for sustainable development goals. World Vision has put Gender Equality and Social Inclusion at the heart of its interventions.
"For example, under THRIVE Project, World Vision uses an approach called Empowered World View (EWV). The Approach targets transforming household gender dynamics and relations through positive behavioural change and perceptions at family and community levels. Similarly, World Vision Malawi is integrating GESI in its programme on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Under Sanitation, we have a component on sanitation marketing being done in selected areas across all the three regions of Malawi," narrated Dube.
Dube disclosed that GESI domains are:
Ø Access: The ability to access, use, and/or own assets, resources, opportunities, services, benefits, and infrastructure.
Ø Decision-making: The ability to make decisions free of coercion at individual, family, community, and societal levels. This can include control over assets and ability to make decisions in leadership.
Ø Participation: The ability to participate in or engage in societal affairs and systems of power that influence and determine development, life activities, and outcomes.
Ø Systems: The availability of equal and inclusive systems that promote equity, account for the different needs of vulnerable populations, and create enabling environments for their engagement.
Ø Well-being: The sense of worth, capability status, confidence, dignity, safety, health, and overall physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
"This is why we have organized this global learning event, as it will give us chances to reflect on how we have managed to facilitate development by promoting mind-set change, especially in the area of gender equality and social inclusion. I would like to assure government and all our stakeholders that World Vision will continue being your partner of choice in delivering development," he said.