The Gender and Women Studies Database, for the period 1980-2000, is an outcome of a research project which was funded by Southern Africa Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) through Women In Development Southern Africa Awareness (WIDSAA). It is a collaborative effort between Women's Voice and Centre for Social Research, University of Malawi.

The Malawi Government recognizes that sustainable economic and social development of the country requires full and equal participation of women, men, girls and boys. To guide and direct the planning and implementation of development programmes, with a gender perspective, the Government has produced a National Gender Policy. Since 1993, the Government of Malawi adopted Women in Development (WID) Strategy as a guide to addressing women's concerns and gender issues in the development process. Despite the WID efforts, however, gender imbalances still exist in all sectors. These disparities are equally recognized by the 1995 Malawi Constitution, which enshrines gender equality in the national principles.

A critical analysis of the Malawi society shows that there are strong traditional and cultural forces that impinge on the participation of both men and women in development endeavors. Indications are that disparities exist between men and women in actual power sharing, participation and control over decision-making processes. These favour men and put women in subordinated positions.

Due to the growing interest in the situation of Malawian women, and the fact that most recent material on the subject is unpublished and therefore not easily accessible, the principle objective of the present work is to document and bring together the scattered and often not easily available writings on Malawian women, since 1980.

The magnitude of known and formally unknown literature on gender and women in Malawi brings to light the need for an easy, accessible and practical reference tool which enables effective dissemination of gender and women issues information. This Gender and Women Studies Database brings together fresh insights and recent data on an important topic to provide a full understating of the situation of women in Malawi.

M Chirwa
Blantyre, December, 2000

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