The Ministry of Gender says the Gender Equality Bill will be tabled in parliament during the next meeting of parliament scheduled for February next year.

This will be almost 12 years after the proposed bill was conceived.

Assistant Director in the Ministry Joseph Kazima disclosed this on Thursday in Blantyre during a lobby meeting for the bill with members of parliament.

Kazima said the government has already shown commitment to achieve gender equality in the country through the various regional and international statutes that it has signed.

He, however, observed that the commitment was being hampered by lack of a relevant registration to quicken the process to bring about the desired change.

“Yes women are participating in development, but with a lot of gaps. There are still gaps in land ownership and there are still gaps in their participation in key position in both the public and private sectors.

“Just look around the number of women owning land in our country , the figures are very low, talk about those holding decision making positions, it remains at 23 percent in the public sector. This is very pathetic,” said Kazima.

The meeting which drew together MPs from the southern and eastern regions, was organised by the NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGOGCN).

And in his opening Speech, an official from the NGOGCN Christopher Misuku, said once passed into law, the Gender Equality Bill, would address the many gender imbalances currently existing in the country.

Misuku cited malpractices such as gender based violence which happens because of the gender imbalance that exist between males and females, as well issues such as rape and sexual exploitation being suffered by girl children in the country and also trafficking and other forms of physically abuse.

He urged the MPs to take great interest in the proposed law to understand its importance.

“Honourable members…we are of the opinion that if you understand better why we need gender statutes bill, you will be able to articulate it better once it is tabled thereby influencing your fellow members of the house to support the bill hence making it to be passed,” Masuku said.

The process to enact the gender equality piece of legislation started in 2001.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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