Over the years, gender and women issues have received great attention by researchers, donor agencies and the government. This is evidenced from the writings on gender and women issues especially relating to improving the women's status in social, economic, legal and political areas. Another development in this area since the end of the United Nations Decade for Women is the establishment of a number of local Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) dealing with gender, human rights and women issues. These initiatives and actions are testimony of the seriousness with which the women and gender question is now being understood and tackled by Malawian women and government.

Based upon the analysis of studies on women in Malawi, there is need to document (research), analyze and disseminate data on gender-role socialization patterns and practices. This is with a view not only to taking stock of the progress made towards the equality and integration of women, but also to highlight the gaps between women's and men's opportunities. The situation analysis can guide in devising strategies and policies which will promote gender equality.

The Government of Malawi recognizes that sustainable economic and social development of the country requires full and equal participation of women, men, girls and boys. Therefore, to guide and direct the planning and implementation of development programmes at all levels, with a gender perspective including resource allocation for equitable national development, it has produced a National Gender Policy and the National Platform for Action, which is a follow-up action to the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. The Government has also set up the Ministry of Gender as the National Gender Machinery for Malawi, with a mandate to spearhead the formulation, implementation, co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation of gender policy, programmes, projects and activities at all levels.

Malawi has ratified a number of International Declarations and Conventions. These include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1987), the Earth Summit of Rio de Janeiro (1992), the International Conference on Nutrition (1992), the Convention on Rights of the Child (1991), the Human Rights Conference in Vienna (1993), the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (1994), the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (1995), World Food Summit in Rome (1996) and the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995).

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 despite government efforts, disparities still exist between men and women in actual power sharing, participation and control over decision-making process. These favour men and put women in subordinate positions. There is low representation of women in decision-making positions. In July 1999, out of 193 Members of Parliament only 17 were women, four of the 28 ministers were women and there were only two female judges. Out of the 20 ambassadors and high commissioners, only 3 are female. There is only one woman deputy programme manager of the 8 ADD Programme Managers. Currently, there are only 2 female ministers and 2 deputy female ministers, 6 female principal secretaries and 4 deputy principal secretaries, 2 deputy mayors of city assemblies and 1 chief executive of city assembly in the country. During the 2000 local government elections, a total of 843 people were elected councilors. Of these, 70 were women, (8.3%).

In this database, we present published and unpublished materials on gender and women studies in Malawi:- books, dissertations, journal articles, research reports, seminar papers, conference and workshop proceedings as well as directories and bibliographies covering the period 1980-2000. The bulk of the items annotated in this database are, however, unpublished. The database presents an overview of studies and writings on gender and women in Malawi. The detailed information in the annotations will, it is hoped, be informative enough to readers even if they do not turn to the actual document. The annotations are organized under nine themes.

Literature search was first conducted through the bibliographic facilities available at the Centre for Social Research and University Libraries. In addition, however, literature search was done in the catalogues of the main established libraries in the country, including the National Archives of Malawi. The focus was on institutions which were likely to hold documents on gender and women issues. In addition, searches were conducted in some international organizations and women and human rights NGOs. Contacts were made with some leading gender and women researchers, analysts, practitioners and activists in various recognized NGOs.

The two indexes provided are based on the number of entries they relate to. Both indexes are arranged alphabetically. The entries in the database are further complemented by a location field. This is an action which provides information on the actual availability of the cited document, in terms of the holding library, resource centre or documentation centre, etc.

Works of this kind can never be exhaustive, as new or unknown publications continue to appear. This is also the case in the present work, since most materials on Malawian women and gender are largely unpublished and thus not easily accessible through standard channels and mechanisms of literature search. However, every possible effort has been made in the present study to document and annotate research and writings on Malawian women.


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