A longtime champion for women’s empowerment, Clinton met Malawian President Joyce Banda in the capital of Lilongwe and encouraged her to stay on a course of economic reform to make the country more attractive to foreign investment.
Later, Clinton was to visit a girls secondary school and an agriculture project supported by U.S. assistance. Clinton, the first secretary of state to visit Malawi, was clearly pleased to meet Banda and told her that the United States “strongly supports you and your government and your efforts on behalf of the people of this absolutely wonderful country.”
Banda, a women’s rights campaigner who had been Malawi’s vice president but assumed the top job in April after President Bingu wa Mutharika died in office, told Clinton that “for a long time we have both been women and children’s activists and I was looking forward to the day that we would meet. And we meet today in an official capacity and I am proud.”
Banda has been keen to differentiate herself from her predecessor who had a rocky relationship with international development agencies and whose policies led the U.S. to suspend a $350.7 million assistance package last year. In May, the country devalued its currency by one third and loosened restrictions on foreign currency exchange.