Tom Seward is a 22-year-old graduate in law from the University of Manchester. He is also a proud Irishman (his parents are from Cork) but he grew up overseas. Tom started as an intern with GOAL Malawi in October 2019, and will be with them until April this year. Here is the first of a series of weekly blogs from TOM on his experience.
By Tom Seward
En route to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, (via an unexciting four-hour layover in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and a seemingly unending refuelling stop in Lubumbashi, DRC,) I was unsure of what would be awaiting me on my arrival. I did spend much of my childhood living overseas in developing nations, (Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan), but this just meant I’ve learned how different and unique these types of places can be. I have been taught not to, like many do, bundle them all into one grand assumption. Malawi has been no exception. It is a fascinating and distinctive place with wonderful people who fully justify the nation’s moniker, ‘the warm heart of Africa’.
The work I’ve been doing with GOAL Malawi is just as fascinating as the country itself. My first experience of the work GOAL does was at a conference hosted by the Malawi Irish Consortium against Gender-Based Violence (MICGBV), of which GOAL is a founding member. The event was attended by the Irish Ambassador to Malawi, Gerry Cunningham, the Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Hon. Mary Thom Navicha MP and a range of influential people involved in the fight for social justice for women in Malawi. This year the event was the culmination of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender–Based Violence activities, and was focused on the abuse of women in the workplace.
I was really encouraged to see that there is so much work being done in Malawi beyond what people are accustomed to seeing on charity TV specials. If the empowerment and elevation of women in society is so crucial in western countries, then why would it not be important here? Obviously Malawi has more challenges facing it than a lot of other countries, but social justice for women is a universal issue and I am so glad that valuable work is being done towards it here in Malawi. I am happier still that I am involved with an organisation like GOAL that is leading the charge.
Last week I was at a meeting of the MICGBV to discuss how the consortium can carry on the work and the progress that was made at the conference last year. The main talking point was on how to extend the consortium’s work past the 16 days and look at additional new initiatives. The ideas that were circulated were really interesting and exciting and I can’t wait for them to be put into practice.