The Norwegian Church Aid is implementing Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) project as one way of empowering young women economically, addressing HIV/AIDS as well as ending gender based violence (GBV) in Malawi.
On Friday, the organization held a gender based violence and HIV and AIDS awareness campaign at Makande primary ground, Traditional Authority Ngolongoliwa in Thyolo district.
In an interview, the AGYW project coordinator for Norwegian Church Aid, Faith Kachala, said the project focuses on spreading wide information concerning GBV and HIV and AIDS among young women.
“Our objectives are to; reduce HIV and AIDS among girls and young women, spreading wide information about gender based violence, empowering them economically and also encouraging them to pursue education. Additionally, we are targeting girls and young women aged 10-24 years,” said Kachala.
Kachala further said that in order for their goal to be achieved, they have established AGYW clubs whereby young women are taught tailoring (sewing sanitary pads to sale), baking and also Village Saving and Loans (VSLs) for them to be economically empowered so as to desist from sexual behaviours that arise due to poverty.
“As of now, almost 100 girls are back to school while 1625 AGYW clubs (of 50 members each) are doing Village Savings and Loan, 1625 clubs are producing local reusable sanitary pads while 1625 have been taught of legal clinics,” Kachala said.
An official from the district social welfare officer for Thyolo, Willard Mhone, raised concern that girls and young women are facing violence but they do not disclose.
“There are various kinds of GBV that girls are facing but on sad note, this violence are kept unreported which is affecting girl child education as well as health silently. Violence can be physical, whereby a girl being rapped either by stepfather or his own father for the sake of rituals; it can be economical such that girls are denied financial support, and also it can be emotional,” said Mhone.
Commenting on the matter, the guest of honor who graced the event, T/A Ngolongoliwa, said the coming in of AGYW project has completely transformed the lives of many girls and young women in his territory, since young women are now self-reliant hence avoiding sexual behaviors and those who dropped out school, are returning to pursue education.
AGYW project started in 2018 and is expected to phase out in December 2020. It is being implemented in Thyolo, Zomba, Lilongwe, Nsanje, Chikwawa and Blantyre by the Norwegian Church Aid with support from ActionAid.