Banda hails intergration of women in leadership

HARARE - Malawi president Joyce Banda has hailed the integration of women into important positions of political power, hailing Zimbabwe for electing Joice Mujuru to be vice president.

In an address to the 33rd summit of southern African leaders in Lilongwe on Saturday, the newly-elected Southern African Development Community (Sadc) chairperson made special mention of Mujuru’s position, which she said demonstrated the regional bloc’s commitment to put women in powerful political positions.

“We must promote inclusive politics, in this regard we cannot leave the youth behind, we cannot leave women behind and look after the welfare of the poor,” Banda said.

“Sadc has done well in the promotion of women. It was in Malawi where the (Gender) protocol was signed.
Since the signing in Blantyre in 1997, the region has demonstrated its commitment by putting women in important political positions,” Banda said.

“Among these women are AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, first woman president of the Pan African Parliament, vice president of Zimbabwe Joice Mujuru is from the Sadc region and I am also testimony as the first female president of the republic of Malawi.”

The prominent women’s rights campaigner was sworn in as Malawi’s president in April last year, becoming southern Africa’s first female head of state and raising hopes for a fresh start in the small, poor nation after the death of her mercurial predecessor.

Banda, a 61-year-old policeman’s daughter who has won international recognition for championing the education of underprivileged girls, had served as vice president under Bingu wa Mutharika, who died last year following a heart attack.

Banda reaffirmed her commitment to promoting regional integration and eradication of poverty to promote development.

“We need to intensify our efforts towards regional integration,” Banda said.

“As chair of the great community, I hope to drive initiatives that bring Sadc closer to the people for whom it works, in short a Sadc of the people, by the people. Agriculture remains the engine for sustainable growth key to economic growth and poverty reduction. We need to intensify agriculture development and agro industries. Our objective is to eradicate poverty and uplift the living standards of the people.”

The 33rd summit comes amid innumerable controversies surrounding the just-ended Zimbabwe election which Sadc envoys declared as free and fair not withstanding its challenged credibility.


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