Below is an interview conducted between NAYD media editor Judyannet Muchiri and Sheripher Dinala from #NAYDSDGs team Malawi Sat 4th February 2017
Welcome Sheripher from Malawi. We are happy to have you here. If you'd briefly introduce yourself to the people.
Hello everyone and thanks Judy for hosting me. I am sheripher Dinala, from Malawi. I am a deputy team leader for Network for African youth and development on SGD Malawi chapter. I am also a member for FMNET, the African women's development and communication Network. I am very passionate with women and girls rights. I am a sociologist and gender activist by profession with an honors degree in sociology and gender development studies.
You recently attended the AU Women Empowerment Summit. Would you kindly recap it for us? Briefly, what was the summit aimed at?
I had a privilege of attending the 28th African Union gender pre summit. This year theme was Harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in young, with a focus on empowering young people more specifically young women.
What outcomes, briefly, resulted from the summit?
I am happy to report that African youth will have a focal point person within the African Union. In addition. There will be a special commit for African youth within the African Union. Furthermore we were able to come up with recommendation which were presented to our leader in issues of young people's economic empowerment through innovation, youth driving social change, young people's political engagement and finally young people's financial empowerment. These recommendations were based on gaps and issues affecting young Africans. The recommendations were presented to the ministers during the ministerial conservative meeting and we believe these were presented to African heads of states.
From these outcomes what are the priority areas that we should focus on as young people working in rural communities?
There are five priority areas that young people working in rural areas need to focus on in rural areas.
Education. We need to work on access to technology and skill development. We need to make sure that young people especially young women and girls are encouraged to participate in the STEM fields.Youth employment and entrepreneurship. We all know that our government are failing to create enough employment opportunities for young people. Therefore there is need for young people to change their mindset as far as economic empowerment is concerned. Three other areas of focus were: governance, peace, and security; health and sexual reproductive health rights; agriculture, climate change, and the environment.
Let's talk women's rights, as the summit focused on human rights especially women's rights: how well aware are women and girls of their rights? Do we need to create more awareness?
I am afraid to say, there is a lot of work to be done on women's rights. And this was an issue of concern on young people especially young women during the summit. Many countries have policies in place but no implementation on the ground. I will give you and example. In Malawi we have a gender equality act, Marriage and divorce act. But if you go in rural areas ask them to tell you on any section they know, you will realize that there is indeed a lot to be done on sensitization and awareness. The work should be to both men and women. The focus should be on gender based violence and sexual harassment. On the other hand we need comprehensive sexual reproduction health education from early education.
Have we invested enough in women especially in Rural areas?
Not much has been done in rural areas as much as women's rights is concerned. What makes me so Sad is that even in urban areas. There is still more work. Let's talk about education, health, the environment, politics, economics, sports. It's all dominated by men. Yet the population of women is more than the ones dominating most social spaces. We really need to cast the net wider. Some of the conversations we had during the 28th African Union gender summit was on how best we can invest in women/ young women and girls in social spaces in Africa.
How can we invest more in women?
We can invest more in women by making sure that education is accessible and conducive for all. By building the capacity of women in entrepreneurship and leadership, there is need for a quota in all decision making positions including political parties. There is also need to fights harmful practices in our society. We also need to make sure that there is gender equality and equity in work places, access to capital and access to assets like land. These can help women/ young women and girls to be economically empowered. Hence achieving demographic dividend
Thanks for this information Sheripher.Do we have questions from members?
Paul - thanks very much Sheripher - what can NAYD do to help women empowerment or what is it doing now that is helping?
From the priority areas we focused during the summit, you will notice that they are part of the SDGs we are working on. Our role as Network for African young and development is to make sure we fill in the gaps and promote education and skills development, how we can capacitate the youth in employment and entrepreneurship, governance, peace, and security, youth health and sexual reproductive health rights and finally agriculture, climate change and environment. Let's make sure we encourage our fellow youth to take lead in promoting these areas.
Epie - Sheripher thanks for sharing your experience and the outcome from the summit. I would like to know where there were any concrete strategies or measures adopted to practically promote women's leadership and political participation given the numerous challenges they face, some of which you already cited
Some of the strategy is to make sure that there should be a quota for women in leadership positions. The quota which was proposed is 30%. It was also recommended that politics should not be once off event. However it should be a process where by women/ young women are mentored on issues of politics
Epie - Good but we know that we had the quota system for a while now yet many countries are yet to meet that .so l think there's need for an investment in women's ability to represent themselves to build their capacity that will help them challenge the existing status quo. Then we can have more women participating in leadership and political affairs
Finally I would like to appeal to my fellow young people that there is a lot to do out there. We all need to take our position and institute the change we want in the world. We had a very productive conversation with our African leaders. I believe as we are contributing towards demographic dividend we have a role to play by being accountable and monitor closely on then promises our leaders have made. Let us continue with networking; online or offline. We still need to engage each other and have our own barometer. In this was I believe we are going to be part of the change we need through implementation of SDGs