EmGender Member, Carol Tendal Makoko will be curating the social networking sites for one week (20-27 July). Carol is in her third year of law and this is her favourite quote on gender equality:
“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance” ~ Kofi Annan
Well…. before I studied my Customary Law, I used to think that Gender justice is easily attainable. At this point, I stand with a different view. Why do I say so? Like any other society in the world, Malawi is governed by a culture whose beliefs, values, customs and a host of social practices have a powerful influence on community life. Culture is indeed very important for national identity, however, in most cases, these cultural/ social practices have been used to preserve certain gender roles and Stereotypes that may still perpetrate gender injustices in certain communities. One afternoon, my late Grandma said to me, “atsikana inu mwakula ofunika kuchinamwali (you girls are all grown now, it’s about time we took you to an initiation ceremony)”. At this point all I knew about these ceremonies was hearsay and I never actually got to go to one (mainly because grandma passed on before she could get us to go to one). Sitting in a customary law class I got to hear the “chinamwali” concept again. It is here, that I learnt about what this ceremony entails (but let me not preempt this week’s discussion). In Malawi there are different cultural practices that infringe on the rights of individuals and groups of people, and studies have shown that the practices such as “chinamwali” encourage sexual intercourse for initiates and infringe on a number of rights of the girls and women. This week (Tuesday-Thursday) I will share with you some of the cultural practices in Malawi as per the Malawi Human Rights Commission Report on “Cultural Practices and their impact on the enjoyment of Human Rights, Particularly the rights of Women and Children in Malawi” and we can all share our personal experiences and perhaps bring to light the advantages and disadvantages of these practices. And on Friday we are going to be answering the question “should these cultural practices be maintained, modified or eliminated? And how best the Gender injustices these cultural practices perpetrate can be dealt with, bearing in mind the cultural state of Malawi as a nation.”
Carol looks forward to curating the social pages this week. Taking advantage of #EmGENDER’s interactive platform!