On 2 February 2024, the Malawi Commonwealth Alumni Association Network (MCAAN) hosted a panel discussion on access and inclusion challenges and opportunities in Malawi’s main economic sectors: agriculture, mining, and gender and social welfare. Commonwealth Alumni were joined by representatives from Malawi’s ministries of Mining, Agriculture, and Gender.

Following opening remarks on the importance of access and inclusion in these sectors and in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


  • Keneth Chuala, representative, Ministry of Agriculture
  • Regina Mayeso, representative, Ministry of Mining

Overview of current challenges and opportunities

The discussion commenced with a presentation from Keneth Chuala, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In his introduction, Mr Chuala noted that agriculture remains a key sector of Malawi’s economy and contributes approximately 29% to GDP, 65% of employment, and 67% of export earnings. However, the sector’s performance is below its potential due to several factors, including gender disparities that negatively affect agriculture productivity, production and economic growth. He cited women’s limited access to and control over assets and decision making, limited access to information and technology, and the burden on women to perform multiple family roles as significant barriers to their inclusion.

Dr Chuala shared current interventions employed by the ministry to address these challenges. The interventions included providing loans targeting women, youth and persons with disabilities working in the agricultural sector and providing training on social inclusion amongst ministry staff to promote gender and social inclusion in projects and budgeting.

Regina Mayeso furthered the discussion in her presentation addressing gender-related challenges and opportunities in the mining sector. She shared that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) employs millions of people in Africa and thousands in Malawi, but often operates informally with limited access to resources and technology. Women working in the sector typically experience gender-based discrimination and are subsequently underrepresented. The mining sector also faces significant environmental challenges and can also cause community displacement.

To address these challenges, the ministry has sought to formalise ASM which has proved improved safety, environmental practices, and livelihoods for miners. There have also been efforts to increase the implementation of transparent benefit-sharing agreements to build trust and ensure communities benefit from mining projects. Regarding opportunities for women, Regina highlighted the potential of targeted initiatives to promote gender equality which will increase women’s access to training, jobs, and leadership roles in mining.

The presentation were followed by an active Q&A session and networking session.