Closing the Gap between men and women in Malawi.

By Mandisa Chabwers (UWCAC ’15-’17)

Malawi is a small country located in the southeast of Africa bordered by Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Malawi’s system of government is a Democratic Party system run by a president. The mindset in Malawi when it comes to identifying what’s right and what’s wrong is different to the ways in which other countries think. This has affected a lot of citizens because of how the system is operated, especially on the topic of identity. Every individual can identify themselves with a gender in most parts of the world, thus including Malawi.

Gender comes about with limitations as well as possibilities for individualism. When an individual is identified as a woman, they are associated with the belief that all women must stay at home and take care of children. Men, on the other hand, are supposed to be the bread winners of the family. This will eventually give authority to the male figure and can hinder the female point of view.

Looking at the world today, it is true that women are becoming increasingly important figures that help in developing a lot of influential ideas that exist in the world of today. Yet the opposite is also true, one good example being the abuse of children in rural or even urban sectors of Malawi. Once identified as female, the roles and duties of the child automatically come forth in the society, and the community focuses mainly on how one must dress, interact and behave.

Women in Malawi are raised to fear and respect male figures and make sure that they don’t contradict anything done by men. This can start from the roots, meaning the family. Girls are often given household chores and their participation in any problem solving issues and a school education is limited.

Once identified as female in the society it’s difficult to secure a mindset that helps the community understand that females can partake in any role usually given to a man. One example is the issue that occurred in Nkhotakota, a district in Malawi, where young girls are raised with the sole purpose of getting married and are given away to their future husbands at a tender age of between 12 and 18. Considering how fast the world is developing it is best said it will need both male and female ideas to keep up with the development of the global market and ideologies that come with it.

This is a critical case showing how there are still the ideas that, whether one identifies as male or female, limitations come with gender, proving that “gender is biased sometimes”.

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