To contribute to promoting women’s participation in Malawi’s development and promoting women’s issues and development through enhancing professional capacities of women, the Commission supported women journalists to acquire knowledge to engage their communities by sharing information that is cardinal to women’s development.
To celebrate and popularize freedom of the press UNESCO supports the celebration of World Freedom Day which falls on 3 May each year. In 2017 UNESCO contributed financial assistance towards the holding of a panel discussion. The panel discussion was held under the topic ‘Free expression and access to information in Malawi: Relevance and role in promoting peace and more inclusive societies.’ The topic aimed at casting the spotlight on the relevance of free expression and access to information in fostering peace and inclusive societies. This topic was relevant considering the fact that government had passed into law, the Access to Information Bill (2017) two days prior to the celebrations.
Media Instituted of Southern Africa Malawi chapter (MISA Malawi) considered it key to organise a debate on this topic to give people an opportunity to discuss the relevance of access to information and freedom of expression in promoting peace and more inclusive societies. Among others, the debate revolved around the following issues:
- The importance of freedom of expression in fostering peace;
- The role played by access to information in promoting peace and more inclusive societies;
- Inclusive strategies that can be developed to ensure that the right to seek and receive information is strengthened and used by the media as well as all groups in society?
- How the general public can be included in a significant manner in the efforts to achieve the 2030 Development Agenda; and
- How to ensure the protection of fundamental freedoms when the rule of law is not respected.
Three panelists took part in the debate namely, Thom Khanje, chairperson of MISA Malawi; Brian Ligomeka, independent think tank and renowned media freedom and freedom of expression activist; and Ellard Manjawira, Head of Journalism and Media Studies Department at the Polytechnic, University of Malawi.
Making remarks before the start of the panel discussion, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO, Mr. Emmanuel Kondowe said the theme of celebration was focused on why it is vital to strengthen free and quality journalism to enable the media to effectively contribute to the achievement of SDG 16 especially target 16.10 which seeks to ensure public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.
To celebrate and popularize freedom of the press UNESCO also supports the celebration of World Radio Day which falls on 14 February each year. The 2017 World Radio Day was commemorated underthe theme: Radio is You. Radio continues to be a preferred mass media platform for engaging with audiences. The importance of including students and youth in creating greater awareness of the importance of radio was highlighted. Also emphasised was the importance of radio in providing access to information to the communities, the general public and decision makers.
The organisation of the World Radio Day Commemoration for 2017 was a collaborative effort between the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA). This collaboration marked a new and important chapter in the work of the two organisations which promises to bring more benefits to the country’s communication and information sector.
Activities were organised at two levels namely regionally and nationally. At the national level the highlight was the panel discussion which took place at Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel on 13 February, 2017. The panel discussion was aired live on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Radio 2. A press release was published in the Daily Times newspaper on 13 February, 2017. At the regional level selected schools competed in a quiz competition focusing on the history of radio and its technical aspects. The schools that competed in the quiz were Zomba Catholic Secondary School and Mulunguzi Secondary School in the South. This quiz was broadcast on Chanco Community Radio Station. The other quiz competition was between Dedza Secondary School and Umbwi Secondary School in Central Region.This was aired on Bembeke Community Radio Station.