During the 16 Days of Activism against GBV in 2017, the Women Lawyers Association of Malawi (WLA) was honored to be the recipient of a donation of office furniture, stationery and a passenger vehicle from the Malawi Offices of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ). This donation was both timely and critical and has enabled WLA to open the doors of a small secretariat in Lilongwe – a space that can be used to better meet our objectives of providing legal assistance to women and children. The secretariat also serves as a meeting space, and eventually a resource centre, for the members of WLA.
The GIZ Malawi Country Director, Dr Dagmar Lumm (pictured below with a colleague from GIZ and members of WLA) visited the WLA offices to learn more about the Association and the critical work that we do. The visit was enlightening for all – the members explained about the challenges faced by WLA and the efforts that have been made to ensure that we are able to provide essential legal services to women and children, especially survivors of gender based violence: WLA has set up a special fund to cover the legal fees for GBV survivors; we host legal clinics both online using our Facebook page and in person; WLA works as a watchdog of legislation and policy that has implications on the rights of women and children; and, we also issue public statements on topical issues that affect women and children of Malawi. Dagmar and Margret shared their experiences of the similar struggles faced by women and children in Germany and the measures that have helped to lessen the incidences of violence but also enhance the overall response to GBV.
This conversation and donation is relevant to the work of WLA in Malawi, but we all recognized that the conversation about violence faced by women and children is a global one. The WLA fund for GBV survivors can also be considered a local effort to show that even in Malawi #TimesUp for sexual harassment and other forms of GBV.
The images of the visit were captured by Maria Thundu of MARS Photography.
This visit also served as the soft launch of the WLA Secretariat. The Secretariat has been undergoing extensive renovation and is only open a few days of the week as we finalize the renovation and recruit an officer to receive complainants and manage the administrative work of the Association. The Secretariat will be used for future legal clinics, training workshops and other WLA events.
Follow our social media accounts to keep abreast of upcoming events and to find out the details of our open days when one of the WLA members will be working at the Secretariat to receive and handle complaints.
The Women Lawyers Association of Malawi once again expresses its deep and sincere gratitude to the GIZ for their generous donation, this contribution to our work has enhanced our capacity to better serve the women and children of Malawi.