Malawi

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Sections 20 and 41 of the Constitution of Malawi uphold the principle of equal rights for men and women and prohibit any discrimination based on gender or marital status.[1] The Republic of Malawi ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1987. Malawi signed the Optional Protocol in 2000, but has yet to proceed with ratification. It ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2005.
The unequal status of women in Malawi is shaped by the inter-locking factors of general poverty, discriminatory treatment in the family and public life and a vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Both matrilineal and patrilineal systems operate in Malawi’s ethnic groups and it is reported that both systems perpetuate discrimination against women in the family with respect to control over resources.[2]Women in Malawi generally fare worse than their male counter-parts on most social and economic indicators including wage equality, political participation, secondary and tertiary education enrolment and literacy.[3] However, Malawi has achieved gender parity with respect to primary school enrolments, which indicates an improvement in attitudes towards girls’ education.[4]


[1] Section 20(1) and 40(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, adopted in 1995 [2] White, S. (2007) pp.5-6 [3] World Economic Forum (2010) p.202 [4] Idem
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