The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Malawi has hailed the launch of the Parliamentary Caucus on Population and Sustainable Development saying the initiative is a strategic entry point in engaging with parliamentarians and their constituencies on population dynamics and sustainable development.
Speaking during the event in Lilongwe on 12th August 2022, UNFPA Representative a.i, Ms. Miranda Tabifor said the launch is timely as Malawi is still grappling with many problems that require the Caucus to undertake necessary advocacy to ensure concrete action is taken to address these issues.
Citing the Government of Malawi’s commitment to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD25, she underscored that Malawi is making good progress in some commitments, and progress has stagnated in other areas, “For example, while the country is making good progress in reducing preventable maternal deaths from the maternal mortality ratio of 439 to 329 per 100,000 live births currently, the country needs to step up its efforts to achieve the target of 110 per 100,000 live births by 2030.”
Ms. Tabifor added that the national commitment to end child marriages is another key area that requires the Caucus’s attention. The Malawi Parliament enacted a law to increase the minimum age at marriage from 15 to 18 years. However, the country still has high rates of child marriage with 38 percent of girls getting married before the age of 18.
“With the Caucus now in place, attention should now shift to enforcement of the law,” she said.
Guest of Honour at the function and Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Catherine Gotani Hara said the launch marks a beginning of a new chapter as Parliament, in the past, was largely ignored by development partners’ despite being a critical player in policy formulation.
“We have 193 Members of Parliament in the House who represent the 19 million and plus population in Malawi,” she said. “So, let’s work together, invest in us, build our capacity so that we are not left out in policy development.”
Initially, the Parliamentary Caucus on Population and Sustainable Development was launched in 2017. With the relaunch, there are high hopes that the Caucus will play a central role in steering critical sustainable development issues outlined in Malawi Vision 2063.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Caucus on Population and Sustainable Development, Hon. Abel Kayembe explained that the Caucus will not only champion and advocate for policy reforms on population management but also support policy formulation to enable development at parliamentary level.
“It’s also important for MPs to know the dynamics of population management,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s the parliamentarians who are encouraging their constituents to have many children so that they can have many votes. But we should not focus on the numbers, but the quality of life of the people who we represent.”
By Joseph Scott, Communications Analyst