Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Jean Kalilani has said the Government of Malawi recognises the role of faith-based organisations in the realisation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015. She said religious organisations play a critical role in governance policies, peace and security, gender equality and women empowerment.
Kalilani said this in Lilongwe early this week when she opened a national awareness conference on the role of Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) in the implementation of SDGs as the Catholic women are preparing to host the African Region Conference of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations (Wucwo) in August this year.
"I am happy to learn that the conference has been organised to reflect and identify the role of the Catholic Women Organisation in achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Malawi, with focus on Goal 5, which is Gender Equality and Women Empowerment," said Kalilani.
She said the conference, which was organised by her ministry, was also aimed at determining opportunities of working with CWO in promoting socio-economic empowerment of women in the country within the framework of the SDGs.
"Similarly, the conference also deliberates the role of faith-based organisations in influencing positive change. It further generates key messages that Catholic CWO and other women faith-based organisations can rally around to bring awareness on challenges Malawian women face," said Kalilani.
In a speech delivered on behalf of Bishop Peter Musikuwa, chairperson for the Lay Apostolate in which CWO falls under, acting national pastoral director of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Fr. Vincent Mwakhwawa said the gathering was timely as it was a platform for a successful Wucwo conference.
"I saw that the theme of your forthcoming conference is: Women of Africa, Proclaimers of God's Mercy. This is a good and well-chosen theme since it reminds African women of their important mission and calls them to discharge it with seriousness," Fr Mwakhawa said.
On her part, CWO national chairperson Bernadette Chiwaya thanked Malawi Government through the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare and its partners for the generous support and involvement in the August event.
Among other notable faces at the conference were former first lady Callista Mutharika and PS for the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Mary Shaba, who are both members of the CWO.