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04LILONGWE710 2004-07-29 07:04:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Lilongwe
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000710 



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY. Charge and Poloff paid an introductory call
ON Malawi's newly appointed Minister of Gender, Child
Welfare, and Community Services, Joyce Banda. The minister
was unfamiliar with the issue of human trafficking and
Malawi's G/TIP Tier Two - Watch List status, and agreed the
issue should be addressed. Her staff, however, did not
believe new legislation to criminalize human trafficking is
necessary. She also discussed her views on gender issues,
her experience in the United States, and her background.
Biographic notes begin in paragraph 4. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) Charge and poloff presented trafficking in persons
information to Joyce Banda, Malawi's Minister of Gender,
Child Welfare, and Community Services in a July 14
introductory call. The issue of Human Trafficking was
obviously deeply disturbing to Banda, whose first reply was
"thank you for ruining my day." Banda said she was "very
concerned" about the fact that it is perceived to be a
problem in Malawi, and noted that it is a "complicated
subject requiring careful study." She believes that though
U.S. law assumes that all underage prostitutes are
trafficking victims, the interpretation is not accurate in
Malawi where 15% of children live in households headed by
another child and HIV/AIDS is a major crisis, causing
orphaned teenagers to turn to prostitution for economic
survival. Banda noted, however, that there are other ways
for young girls to make money, and lamented the fact that
educational and economic resources to encourage such options
are extremely limited. Economic empowerment, she said, is
the key to social and political empowerment, all of which
would reduce the likelihood of a girl becoming a trafficking

3. (U) Banda was eager to learn more about human trafficking
and indicated she would attend a USG hosted human trafficking
symposium scheduled in late July. She noted that the GOM's
resources are severely constrained and expressed hope that
the USG would partner with the GOM to combat the problem.

4. (U) Banda's Principal Secretary (PS) was reluctant to
agree that Malawian law should specifically criminalize human
trafficking, making the argument that the current penal code
is strong enough to convict traffickers. The PS also took
the position that prostitution is often a means of survival -
albeit a last resort - for unskilled and uneducated women.



4. (SBU) Banda indicated she felt a great personal debt to
the USG. She participated in an International Visitor
Program in 1989, and while in the U.S. had direct contact
with American women's organizations and presented academic
papers in Washington D.C. She used her experience in the
U.S. as a model for the organizations she has since started
in Malawi. In 1990 she established the National Association
of Business Women, which has assisted over 27,000 women and
disbursed USD 2 million in loans. In 1997 she founded the
Joyce Banda Foundation for Better Girls' Education, which,
according to Banda, sponsors over 630 students and provides
care and housing for over 550 orphans. In October of 1997
she was awarded the African Leadership Prize for the
Sustainable End to Hunger. In 1998 she negotiated the
establishment of The Hunger Project in Malawi. In 2000 she
founded the Young Emerging Leaders Network, which aims to
increase young business people in networking.



5. (SBU) Banda is the wife of former Chief Justice Richard
Banda, who is her second husband. She said her first
marriage was abusive and that she left with three small
children and started her own business. According to Banda,
the previous dictatorial regime in Malawi did not like her
actions to organize and assist women, and fearing persecution
she once "hid out" at what was then the USIS building.

6. (U) Banda has a BA in early childhood education and has
worked as a secretary and ran a bakery. Her limited
political experience includes a year as the treasurer of a
rural village committee and three years (2000-2003) as the
District Secretary of the Woman's Wing of the Zomba Urban
Constituency. In 2003 she became the National Director of
Women's Affairs, and was elected to Parliament in May 2004.
In 1995, she delivered a speech at the International
Conference on Women in Beijing, and has spoken at numerous
other conferences around the world. She has twice been voted
Malawi's Woman of the Year (1997 and 1998.)



6. (SBU) Banda said in the meeting that women and children
are her passion, and her career underlines her commitment.
Her significant accomplishments to boost the status of women
in one of the world's poorest countries are remarkable.
Banda also noted that she "didn't get here (to her position
as minister) by accident" and from what we can see she has
indeed worked her way up. When presented with the issue of
human trafficking, Banda seemed eager to engage other GOM
officials on the issue but was not confident that GOM funds
will be available to assist. The views expressed by her PS
lead us to believe he will not be an advocate for
strengthening Malawi's existing criminal statute with regard
to human trafficking.