- HON. JEAN MUONAWAUZA SENDEZA MP THE MINISTER OF GENDER, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL WELFARE;
- HER HONOUR AISHA ADAMS MP SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT OF MALAWI;
- ALL Ministers, Honourable Members of this august Assembly;
- DR. NAA DODOO, SR. RESEARCH AND POLICY ANALYSIS (AND LEAD ON POPULATION DYNAMICS AND DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND) AFIDEP AND RESEARCH THINK TANK LEAD;
- MRS FIONA KALEMBA THE CLERK OF PARLIAMENT OF MALAWI;
- MRS PHOEBE KASOGA COUNTRY DIRECTOR PLAN INTERNATIONAL MALAWI
- MS LYNN CHINENE PLAN INTERNATIONAL ZAMBIA.
- DEPUTY REPRESENTATION UNFPA AND REPRESENTATIVES OF UN AGENCIES;
- MS EVA JHALA DRAFTER OF THE GMB MODEL LAW AND OUR CHIEF RESOURCE
- STAFF OF THE SADC PARLIAMENTARY FORUM, AND STAFF OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF MALAWI
- DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS, STAFF OF SAFAIDS AND ALL CSO'S PRESENT.
- INVITED GUESTS;
MEMBERS OF THE PRESS;
Honourable Colleagues and participants, allow me to say Good Morning and stand on the already established protocol.
I bring fraternal greetings from the SADC Parliamentary Forum family. It is with immense humility and honour that I appear before you in my capacity as Secretary General of the SADC-PF to engage on the issue of domestication of the SADC Model Law on Gender-Based Violence.
As you are aware, this is an initiative which follows the participation of Malawi to the deliberations at the 67 th session of the Commission on the Status of Women which took place earlier this year, whereby the Hon. Minister of Gender, Hon. Jean Muonawauza Sendeza delivered a powerful rendition of her views on how gender equality should be advanced in Southern Africa by leveraging technology. On this occasion, it was highlighted that the SADC Model Law on GBV should be utilised as a guiding instrument for policy initiatives and legislative interventions.
Today, this session which is taking place under the auspices of the GBV Technical working Group partners, (Plan International, UN agencies and SAfaids) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and national Parliament aims to delve into the nature of domestication strategies and the modalities which may be adopted to further identify the gaps in domestic law and to incorporate the provisions of the Model Law, as appropriate.
I must say at the outset that domestication is a recurrent issue dealt with by the Forum, especially because the SADC-PF is a regional inter-parliamentary organisation, and therefore harmonisation of norms from regional to national level is an issue of utmost importance to facilitate further integration of Member States in the region.
Domestication by the adoption of similar legal norms brings Member States closer and therefore facilitates the linkages which prepare countries for socio-economic integration. Domestication is therefore quintessential for regionalisation, whether it is about SADC Model Laws, SADC protocols or other multi-lateral agreements that bind the region.
I think this august audience will concur with me to note that protection of individuals from gender-based violence is long overdue. In SADC, such practices have in fact been discouraged through sensitisation campaigns dating as far back as the 1980s. However, gender-based violence is still rampant, and its consequences brutal and dire, especially for the most vulnerable segment of the population at the bottom of the social ladder, be it male or female. This is because gender-based violence has moved forward from the traditional physical assaults to more sophisticated means such as psychological, emotional violence and even cyberviolence, to cite but a few forms of GBV.
The 21 st century is therefore faced with an unprecedented conundrum where laws on GBV need to be updated regularly due to the fast-evolving pace of society and societal trends. Laws need to adapt fast to befit current circumstances. Therefore Model Laws are made to facilitate this adaptation process and give national Parliaments a boost in terms of subject analysis, ground research, legislative brainstorming, and drafting formulation. In addition, you will note that there is no copyright on the SADC Model Law when national Parliaments import similar provisions into domestic law.
The Model Law was adopted by an inclusive process uniting all SADC Member Parliaments at the level of the Plenary Assembly, and therefore the Model Law is for you to embrace and internalise.
The Model Law on GBV was adopted by the 50 th Plenary Assembly of the SADC-PF in December 2021. It is now at your doors and is ready for incorporation.
I am confident that this session will also serve to assist Ministries and MPs to reflect on key domestication strategies to internalise the Model Law and thus elevate the prevailing norms in Malawi to the prescribed standards.
I wish to highlight that all Model Laws of the Forum are followed by further advocacy materials to assist domestication, such as Guides or Manuals for stakeholders. Those advocacy materials are currently under preparation and you will be communicated with those in due course. In addition, we will be keen to hear your feedback and ideas on which materials may be further developed to assist MPs at national level.
I encourage Hon. Ministers, MPs and other stakeholders to interact with the presenters today and tomorrow in view of appreciating the main provisions of the Model Law and their objectives. Thereupon, it would be necessary to devise a robust multi-partnership framework and a Roadmap for incorporation of the Model Laws.
Incorporation of provisions is an issue which require ongoing consultations with representatives from the 3 arms of the State. For instance, there are provisions on judicial remedies such as restraint orders to protect victims of GBV which require consultations with Magistrates and judicial officers at national level. Similar, criminalisation of certain GBV offences will of course require consultations with the prosecutor's office and the relevant policy organs. Increases in budgets and gender mainstreaming through the appropriation bill will necessitate approvals by the Ministry of Finance, amongst others.
I am confident that the outcome of this session will lead to reflections on the multi-stakeholder framework to be adopted and subsequently on the Roadmap to be put in place.
As Nelson Mandela rightly said: "It always seems impossible until it's done". A few years ago, the domestication of the Model Law on child marriage was also viewed as impossible by many, yet today the main provisions of the Model Law have been domesticated in many SADC countries to raise the legal age of marriage to 18. Similarly, we are confident that the Model Law on GBV too will be progressively internalised.
By organising this activity, the Forum in collaboration with the national Parliament is fully appreciative of the efforts made by Honourable Ministers and MPs to promote domestication. Your attendance itself today is a testament to your goodwill and willingness to modernise the domestic GBV framework and elevate Malawi to the heights of citizen's expectations.
This would also constitute a stride ahead in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and in stepping closer to achieving women empowerment as anticipated in instruments such as CEDAW or the Maputo Protocol.
In this respect, your participation today is to be celebrated and I personally applaud this initiative and its potential for milestone achievements to be made in the field of GBV.
With these words, I wish you a pleasant session and thank you for your attention.
22 nd June 2023