The Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children and Women, Marta Santos Pais has commended UNFPA for its efforts of promoting girls to go and remain in school, ending child marriages, and also changing harmful cultural practices that disadvantage women and girls. This was said when UNFPA Malawi country office hosted the Special Representative through a field visit to Traditional Authority. T/A Mwanza in Salima district where she had an opportunity to interact with girls that have returned to school, traditional leaders as well as religious leaders.
She also had a special interaction with T/A Mwanza. “In this community, before we started getting support from UNFPA, there were many girls that were dropping out of school and it was a worrisome situation that warranted immediate intervention” said T/A Mwanza in welcoming Matta and her team at her headquarters.
Speaking at the event, Marta Santos Pais commended the work that T/A Mwanza has done to ensure her community has more educated girls and that harmful cultural practices including child marriages have been eliminated. “As a woman, I find your achievements quite inspiring and I want this success story to go beyond Africa; I want you to speak to the whole world and stand as an example to many because you have been in the fore front of this significant change in your own community” she said. She also held discussions with girls that had dropped out of school due to pregnancy and other reasons but are now back in school.
UNFPA through the Malawi Interfaith Aids Association with support from the European Union were implementing a four year project from 2011 on Gender equality and women empowerment in thirteen districts including Salima, in Traditional Authority Mwanza.
Marta Santos Pais is on a four day visit to Malawi from 24th October to meet senior government officials, traditional leaders and the civil society in support of advocacy programmes that aim at eliminating violence against children and women in Malawi.