Kasaila speaking during the AGYW Launch
By Harold Kapindu
Malawi Government has emphasized that empowering girls and women to realize their full potential is an important investment to national prosperity.
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila made the remarks on Tuesday during the launch of National Strategy for Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in Lilongwe.
Kasaila said girls and young women have the ability to become powerful agents of development if they are well educated, in good health, economically and socially empowered and are protected from violence, abuse and discrimination.
"The ultimate goal of AGYW strategy is to improve the well being of young people in Malawi especially Adolescent Girls and Young Women. Malawi has registered a lot of programmes focusing on improving the health and well being of adolescents and youths as well as enhancing their economic opportunities and participation in national development.
"Various policy and strategic frameworks have been developed. However, progress in outcomes on adolescent girls and young women have remained relatively poor mainly due to 'siloed' delivery of programs," Kasaila explained.
He added: "This strategy is expected to serve as a guiding tool to ensure comprehensive interventions for adolescent girls and young women are delivered in a coordinated manner by the relevant sectors, strengthening on linkages and referral for effective case management."
The Minister of youth further said, demographically, adolescent girls and young women are in majority, representing a great human resource capital if proper investments are made.
He explained: "35 percent of girls aged 20-24 give birth before the age of 18. 50 percent of adolescent girls are married before the age of 18 as compared to 9 percent of boys. Less than 20 percent of girls complete primary school and enter into secondary school due to limited space and financial resources."
Kasaila said, to achieve the goal of AGYW strategy, Malawi needs increased technical and financial investments to reach to more girls and young women as well as improve on what is already being done.
US Embassy in Malawi Charge d'affaires Andrew Herrup congratulated Malawi for being one of the first countries to have drafted and launched a comprehensive Adolescent Girls and Young Women Strategy.
He said with the launch of AGYW Strategy, all stakeholders are committted to working together whereby breaking down silos.
"A future of health, education and economic prosperity is stolen from too many adolescent girls and young women as a result of limited space in secondary school, pressures to meet their own needs for food and shelter, sexual violence, and childbearing when they are still children themselves. With the launch of this strategy, we are saying that this is unacceptable," Herrup explained.
He added: "Let us roll out a functional national referrals system that ensures coordination across the relevant line ministries so that health, youth, social welfare and education staff truly are working alongside eact other at a district level."
At this juncture, Herrup revealed that the United States has already funded two Global Health Corps Fellows who will support the newly established AGYW Secretariat to work across Ministries to translate the strategy into implementation.
The AGYW strategy started in December 2016 when President Peter Mutharika hosted a high level team of global partners from USA, Global Fund and Girls not Bribes global partnership.
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