Malawi: Network Advance Rights of Women to Own Land, to Address Child Marriages

In a last ditch attempt to wipe out cases of child marriages and property grabbing in Ntchisi district, NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN) has facilitated the formation of Ntchisi Women’s Movement to challenge patriarchal cultural norms and religious beliefs that perpetuate power imbalances between men and women.

The movement is also expected to spearhead the promotion of women’s rights to access and own land in the district.

The 2019 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) report says power imbalances that exist between men and women advanced by patriarchal cultural norms, religious beliefs, formal laws and policies increase the vulnerability of women to gender based violence.

The report, which is titled ‘The Status of Women in Malawi and Widowhood’, states that this ‘rule of thumb’ dates back to laws, such as Judeo-Christian religious ideas, Greek philosophy and Common law legal codes, that gave man permission to have authority over his wife.

It says as a result of this deeply entrenched patriarchal culture that encourages and rewards male domination, men are more likely to use violence to keep their dominant position in many important areas of live-both public and private.

With funding from United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) through the Spotlight Initiative Project, NGOGCN has taken bold steps towards correcting these wrongs in six districts in Malawi.

The network has mobilized grassroots women’s rights groups to form the movement in an effort to amplify their voice.

NGOGCN programme associate and Spotlight Initiative Project contact person for in Ntchisi and Mzimba, Vincent Chinyama, said his organization realized that there was lack of coordination among grassroots women’s rights activists and; hence, they could not speak with one voice on matters that affect them.