Written by  Doreen Sonani
Malawi is said to be on the right track in the advancement of strategies and programmes aimed at promoting girl-child rights through addressing negative cultural perceptions on gender. 
Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Gender
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, made the remarks on Friday during a virtual African girls pre-summit conference hosted in Nairobi, Kenya.
The meeting took place under the theme 'Mobilizing and Empowering Youth in Addressing Positive and Negative Cultural Practices to Accelerate an end to Harmful Practices.'
Among others, the Minister cited the implementation of the Spotlight Initiative a regional intervention to empower women through different dimensions of ensuring gender equality.
"Through Spotlight Initiative we reviewed specific laws and policies such as Child Policy and Domestic Violence Act that facilitated the raising of the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years," said Kaliati.
She added that the programme further focuses on preventing harmful cultural practices and transform gender social norms that perpetuate violence against girls by providing comprehensive education on sexuality and scaling up the successful 'Safe Schools' Model.
Kaliati also told the meeting that Malawi Government is also spearheading the 'Ending Child Marriage Campaign' in collaboration with traditional leaders, civil society organisations and other community structures.
In her keynote address at the virtual meeting,  Amira El-Fadil, African Union Commissioner for the Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, called upon  African Ministers responsible for gender and all concerned parties to unite in addressing issues affecting women and girls in the continent.
The meeting which attracted AU Ministers of gender, girls rights advocates and partners, was a preparatory session for the African Girls Conference scheduled for November this year in Niger.

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