HeForShe IMPACT Champion

Arthur Peter Mutharika

Republic of Malawi

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IMPACT Commitments

Implement the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act (Marriage Act) of 2015.

Currently, 1 in 2 Malawian girls is married before her 18th birthday. By passing the groundbreaking Marriage Act this year, Malawi took an important step towards ending child marriage. Malawi commits to fully implement this law over the next five years. Malawi has already established a dedicated Task Force on Ending Child Marriage which will report directly to the President. The Task Force will have several key responsibilities: collect and report data on the average marriage age, escalate challenges or lagging progress, and convene stakeholders from across the country. Additionally, the Government will establish Marriage Courts at district level to handle the case and monitor the implementation of the Act. Finally, the government commits to amending the register of marriage.

Increase by 30% the number of women accessing credit.

Women constitute 70% of informal traders in Malawi, but today, the majority of these women cannot access credit, own land, or control production resources. Thus, women remain excluded from the formal economy: a recent study found that only a third of Malawian women participated in the formal labor force. The Government of Malawi will work closely with commercial banks to create a foothold in the banking system for these women. By 2016, all commercial banks will develop new lending products and options to support and empower women. A national platform for women’s economic empowerment will overview the implementation with CSOs and Government. At the same time, Women Economic Empowerment will become a core priority area of the new Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (2016 – 2020) and the “Women’s Development Fund’ will be established to support the implementation of the strategy with a target to increase by 30% the number of women—and in particular, rural-based women—accessing credit.

Implement the National Action Plan on GBV (gender-based violence) and the by-laws on ending violence against women and girls.

Violence is a widespread but silent epidemic in Malawi today: an estimated 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 7 boys have experienced sexual violence, but most violence occurs in the home and is viewed as a private family affair, with very few reported cases. To shift the tide on violence, the Government of Malawi first aims to increase the number of reported cases of gender-based-violence by setting up a mechanism within the National Action Plan on GBV, to bring this issue into the spotlight. The government will strengthen the 300 community based victim support units and build their capacity to handle cases in coordination with law enforcers and judiciary. In addition a Chief’s Committee will be established to consolidate standardized bylaws and follow on their implementation to promote positive norms around gender, violence and sexuality.