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The Malawi Girl Guides Association [MAGGA] is implementing a 5 year ‘’Ending Violence Against Women and Girls [EVAWG] project’’ in the areas of Traditional Authorities Dzoole, Mkukula, Msakambewa and Chiwere in Dowa district.
Briefing the District Executive Committee [DEC] meeting in Dowa, MAGGA’s Project Officer Edson Kathumba said the organization is implementing the project in collaboration with key government ministries such as The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Health and population, Education and Gender, children and social welfare through their respective district government departments.
Kathumba said the goal of the project is to enhance gender equality and women empowerment in Dowa district by ensuring that women and girls at risk of violence and GBV survivors are able to access life-saving and specialized services, Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) information and modern family planning methods.
He reported that in 2022 implementation year, the project has enhanced the capacity of law enforcers and health service providers in clinical management of rape and GBV cases, trained health care personnel and CBDAs in provision of modern family planning methods, conducted GBV case follow-ups, oriented 240 girls and young women on comprehensive sexuality education and Gender Based Violence, 240 boys and men on masculinity who work as peer educators to facilitate mindset change amongst their peers both at school and in their communities. The project has also enhanced coordination between in-school and community structures in reporting, management and referral of GBV cases. Through Youth Friendly Health Service (YFHS) outreach clinics, they have been raising awareness on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), GBV and providing YFHS services such as STI screening, HIV testing and provision of modern family planning methods.
In an effort to promote environmental conservation, the Officer said MAGGA has donated 4,200 tree seedlings to the three Area Development Committees [ADCs] of Mkukula A, Msakambewa and Chiwere with each ADC receiving 1,400 tree-seedlings to be planted in their areas based on their vegetative cover priorities.
He said the engagement of both in-school boys and girls’ clubs in ending GBV has enhanced peaceful co-existence between boys/men and girls/women. He also highlighted that inclusion of custodians of culture such as Chewa Heritage Organization is promoting utilization of positive aspects of cultural practices in ending GBV which accelerates positive mind-set change amongst community members.
On key lessons learnt, Kathumba said the use of peer education approach is cost-effective, sustainable and promotes child participation. On the same, he reported that the inclusion of boys and men is enhancing realization of their roles towards elimination of GBV.
However, Kathumba said the project experienced some key challenges in the course of implementation such as lack of commitment by some community leaders in ending GBV, negligence by parents, lack of operational one stop center in the district, inadequate supply of oral family planning methods health facilities and insufficient Youth Friendly Health Service Corners. To overcome these challenges, the project will re-establish one stop center, conduct parenting trainings, conduct legal awareness sessions with community leaders and train youthful CBDAs.
In his remarks, Dowa District Council’s Acting Director of Planning and Development Yusuf Laki, encouraged organizations implementing their various interventions in the district to be presenting the progress of their projects before DEC and to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the council and CSO Network for the district to enhance cooperation, transparency and accountability.
Ending Violence Against Women and Girls [EVAWG] project is I being implemented in Dowa district with support from Norwegian Church Aid [NCA] and Danish Church Aid [DCA] through the Malawi Joint Country Programme.