Janet Mwangomba, GOAL Malawi’s Head of Programmes, shares with us the challenges and successes of the exciting International Women’s Day celebrations held in Blantyre on Sunday March 8th.
"The celebration of International Women’s Day is just one step in an on-going effort by civil society and the government of Malawi to curb gender inequality and promote women’s empowerment. "
On 8 March 2020, GOAL Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day.
Our focus was on the celebrations to be held in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital, where our head office is located and where we were part of the organising committee. As it clashed with the date of a local political rally, there were concerns about the viability of the march. Luckily, however, permission for the event came through from the local council at last minute and ultimately, it all went ahead more or less as planned. GOAL was proud to be a part of it.
The day started early with a march through Blantyre’s Central Business District that brought together people from all walks of life – women and men, children and adults, Malawians and foreigners – under the banner #EachforEqual: An equal world is an enabled world. The group wasn’t as large as we had hoped (we suspect the combination of Sunday morning and concerns related to the political rally put a fair number of people off) but it had a great, positive vibe, and we believe that it was successful in bringing attention to an important issue.
The march culminated at a local sports club where a series of follow on activities took place over the rest of the day. These included traditional dances, music, poetry, and dialogue sessions on gender equality with members of a local youth group. There was even a game of ‘generation equality’ netball that pitted the women of the Malawi Defense Force against female civilians! Children were also catered for with a bouncy castle, face-painting and games intended to challenge gender stereotypes. Organizations and businesses that work for women’s rights or are run by women also mounted pavilions showcasing their work.
Amongst the distinguished speakers at the event was Mrs. Esmie Tembenu, a retired child magistrate and one of GOAL Malawi’s Advisory Committee Members. Mrs. Tembenu shared the inspiring story of how she fought against a childhood of poverty and discrimination to become one of Malawi’s foremost experts in family law and gender-based violence. Together with the event’s other speakers, Mrs. Tembenu made a call to action to girls and women to change mindsets, challenge stereotypes and fight bias.
The celebration of International Women’s Day is just one step in an on-going effort by civil society and the government of Malawi to curb gender inequality and promote women’s empowerment. On this special day, we celebrate women in their homes, businesses and places of work. We celebrate their contribution to the growth and development of our country and it’s institutions. Most importantly, we urge everyone to live the motto #EachforEqual in all of our actions and undertakings!