Malawi is a landlocked, densely populated low-income country, with a per capita GDP of USD 300 in 2016. Despite recent economic and structural reforms, poverty is widespread. The Malawian economy remains undiversified and vulnerable to external shocks. Inflation (21.87%) is above regional averages, resulting in higher prices for essentials such as food, electricity and transportation and having the greatest effect on poor people, particularly women and children. Poverty is a gendered phenomenon in Malawi. Female-headed households are more likely to be amongst the poorest and are disproportionately represented in the lowest quartile of income distribution. Women and the youth, including those with disabilities are particularly severely constrained by inequalities and discrimination, restraining them and their families from pulling themselves out of poverty and contributing to national development.
Violence against women and girls is still a fundamental issue of concern with Malawi continuing to experience increased cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence. Evidence suggest that 42% of married women have experienced spousal violence. Furthermore,
The gender gap in agricultural productivity between [men and women] is estimated at 7.3% and the country is largely food insecure. Women make up 75% of the agricultural labour force and produce 70% of household food. Most women are constrained in terms of access to productive resources such as land, credit and entrepreneurship.
2019 tripartite elections, the space for women to freely participate and contest in the fourth coming elections is shrinking. Women’s representation in parliament currently stand at 16.4% and 11% in local councils. Although there are no critical factors contributing to slow progress in representation of women in political positions include lack of affirmative measures (TSMs), violence against women, poor attitudes towards women as leaders; and low representation of women in political party structures, all due to entrenched patriarchal tendencies.
. The programme focuses on three thematic components; Gender and governance, Women and Youth empowerment through enterprise development and Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls which looks at supporting community-based dialogues aimed at changing social and cultural perceptions, attitudes and traditional practices that contribute to Violence Against Women and Girls.
UN Women Malawi, in partnership with our civil society, has set up the Elections Engagement Room which aims at collecting data and information, analysis of the data and referral for women who experience any form of violence during the elections period.
collaborating with strategic partners to identify emerging opportunities for linking women and girls’ economic empowerment to private and public-sector development interventions mostly in value addition and enterprise development.
The ‘feminization’ of the HIV epidemic has resulted in more women than men living with HIV. There is also an association between experiences with violence and HIV infection whereby women who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence are more likely to be at risk of HIV/STI or HIV positive than those with no history of violence. Women seeking antenatal care or voluntary counseling and testing who had experienced violence are also more likely to be HIV positive. In Malawi, like in many other countries, sex and violence are viewed to be private, hence the silence around these issues makes it difficult for women to access services and information for prevention, treatment and care of both HIV and violence. UN Women Malawi advocates for the harmonization and implementation of SHRR and SGBV laws, policies and strategies in Malawi.