Church organizations in Malawi supported by Norwegian and Danish Church Aid have been told to "vigorously" advocate gender and human rights issues. "Unless these issues are addressed," said the agencies in a statement, "we may consider withdrawing our aid to the church organizations." Presently, only the Presbyterian Church has made advances by anointing women as church ministers in its three synods.
"If the church can be in the lead in giving women positions of leadership, it would go a long way to empower their participation [in society]," said Mustahab Ayami, member of a partner organization. Malawi ranks the lowest of the 14 countries in the Southern Africa Development Community, which has targeted a minimum of 30 percent representation of women in decision-making positions by 2005.