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Gender equality, social inclusion and resilience in Malawi

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Emma Lovell

This paper presents a synthesis of existing evidence on gender equality, social inclusion and resilience in Malawi, including persisting issues, trends and changes; knowledge and evidence gaps; and policy implementation and capacity gaps.

It aims to identify key themes and lessons, as well as potential areas for further research, policy and programming, recognising the need to build intersectional approaches to build resilience to a range of shocks and stresses.

The paper aims to inform a wide audience of policy-makers, development practitioners, civil society organisations, think tanks and researchers. The paper has been developed as part of the Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change (BRACC) Programme, for which gender equality, social inclusion and intersectionality are core themes.

It offers the following recommendations to advance gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in resilience policy and programming in Malawi:

  1. Address harmful socio-cultural practices and discriminatory social norms which disadvantage women and marginalised groups, including through the sensitisation of boys and men, working through existing programmes and with traditional and religious leaders who champion GESI.
  2. Promote equal access of systems and services central to a person’s wellbeing, including health and education services, to reduce maternal mortality, child malnutrition, persistent disparities in educational attainment, and to help build people’s capacity to manage shocks and stresses.
  3. Enhance the collection, use and sharing of disaggregated data (by sex, age, economic status, religion, ethnicity, disability and geography as a minimum) in normal times and after a disaster.
  4. Take into account intra-household dynamics in order to help better understand how intersecting factors influence people’s vulnerability, capacity and exposure to different shocks and stresses over time.
  5. Identify the enablers and constraints to women’s economic empowerment in Malawi and entry points for positive change. This includes expanding the livelihood options and income generating activities available to women and disadvantaged groups and addressing the additional barriers women face due to unpaid care work and limited access to productive resources.
  6. Promote the meaningful participation of women and disadvantaged groups in decision-making, community planning and leadership roles. This includes promoting women’s solidarity and confidence, alongside sensitisation programmes with men and boys to accelerate change.
  7. Support the meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities and older people in the design and delivery of resilience policies and programming, which includes adhering to humanitarian standards, principles and guidelines, and moving away from ‘charity-based’ models that treat people purely as beneficiaries.
  8. Mainstream GESI and intersectional approaches across sectors and scales to help reduce vulnerability and build resilience cross-sectorally. This includes ensuring that roles, responsibilities, socially inclusive and gender-responsive budgeting budgets and coordination/communication between different agencies and scales are clearly articulated and that cross-sectoral working on GESI and resilience is adhered to and embraced.