Communities urged to support Girls Safe Space programmes

Ntchisi Organisation for Youth and Development (NOYD) has appealed to communities in Mzimba district to fully support safe space mentors under the Spotlight Initiative in order to fight gender-based violence (GBV).

NOYD’s Mzimba project officer Linda Sikelo said this on Friday at Sandton Hall during a girls’ mentorship review meeting aimed at sharing girls’ safe space experiences and challenges in the district.

She said some sections in the society still don’t believe in women and girls’ rights as such they frustrate safe spaces initiative and encourage harmful cultural practices.

Said Sikelo: “We are appealing to all community members to let both young women and girls have a conducive safe space for them to grow and thrive into productive citizens.

“And that entails ensuring that girls are protected against physical, emotional and economic abuses as well as for Spotlight’s safe spaces to be supported beyond the phasing out of the project.”

Sikelo further highlighted the positive impact the initiative has had among girls and communities in the district.

“From the 36 mentors and safe space we have in Mzimba South, over 3,000 mentees have graduated from the ‘Mthetsa Nkhaza’ project and have been supported with a start-up capital to be economically empowered and achieve their dreams,” she said.

M’Mbelwa district council gender officer, Naomi Mwale said they were working with various stakeholders such as traditional and faith leaders and other community structures to ensure sustainability of safe spaces when the taps of funding from the Spotlight Initiative dries up in June this year.

One of the mentors, Jostina Banda from Manyamula in Traditional Authority (T/A) M’Mbelwa said apart from sharing their experiences, they were also trained on gender equality, human rights and business management.

She said through the safe space model, early pregnancies and marriages have reduced in her area and women and girls have been empowered economically as most of them now run various businesses.

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