By Vincent Gunde
DOWA-(MaraviPost)-The Malawi Girl Guides Association (MAGGA) is implementing Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) project targeting women and girls in the ages of 15-24 years in the areas of Traditional Authorities Mkukula, Chiwere, Msakambewa and Dzoole in Dowa district.
It is a fact that adolescent and young women marry at early ages are susceptible to physical violence and harmful practices with HIV prevalence for young people is considerably high 5.2 percent females, and 1.9 percent males.
Very few adolescent girls’ progress to secondary school, challenging future employment, the high cost of school fees and pregnancy are dominant reasons why girls drop out of secondary school.
The organization’s Field Facilitator, Edson Kathumba, said the project has a goal of enhancing gender equality and women empowerment in the targeted districts by 2024 saying women and girls are at risk of violence and survivors access life-saving and specialized Gender Based Violence (GBV) services.
Kathumba said empowered women and adolescent girls lead, build self-esteem and realize their rights as well as women and adolescents access comprehensive sexuality education and modern family planning.
He said the primary beneficiaries of the project are adolescent girls and young women in the ages 10-24 while secondary beneficiaries are boys, parents and communities in 10 Educational zones, 120 schools, and 14 health centres targeting 9000 girls in and out of school and 30 boys per school making a total of 3,600.
On Covid-19 prevention strategies, Kathumba said the project will engage head teachers, orienting participants, limiting number of participants per activity, following COVID-19 measures and purchasing Covid-19 materials.
The Officer said the project is learning the best practices such as the use of girl guiding and boys scouts, working with communities in making them safe, collaboration of Gender Technical Working Groups (GTWG) partners, engagement of community gate keepers, boys and girls inclusion and enhancing collaborative efforts of health personnel, law enforcers and social workers to promote quality of work.
“Girls and community members are becoming more aware of effects of harmful cultural practices, early marriages and child pregnancies as one of the major key success taking an active role in addressing the issues,’’ said Kathumba.
He said a significant share of pregnancies among girls and young women are mistimed which may be-driven and further aggravated by the high unmet need for family planning.
In his remarks, Dowa District Director of Education, Youth and Sports, Christopher Kumikundi urged all organizations implementing various interventions in the district to come up with a budget line for their projects saying this enhances cooperation, transparency and accountability.
MAGGA’s EVAWG project in Dowa is being implemented with funds from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Danish Church Aid (DCA) through Malawi Joint Country Programme.