EMPOWERING ADOLESCENT GIRLS: END THE CYCLE OF GENDER BASED VIOLENCE PROJECT
According to UNFPA, Malawi has one of the highest rates of child, early and forced marriages in the world as it ranks eighth out of 20 countries with highest rate of child, early and forced marriages in the world. According to the Ministry of Gender, women and Children Affairs 2015 Report, Traditional Authorities Lundu and Ngabu (our project target communities) have the highest rates of child, early and forced marriages in Malawi. Child, early and forced marriages have hindered implementation of the Millennium Development Goals 1 (poverty and hunger); 2 (universal primary education); 3 (gender equality); 4 (child mortality); 5 (maternal health); and 6 (combat HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases) in the Traditional Authorities Lundu and Ngabu in Chikwawa district in Malawi. These two Traditional Authorities are characterized by high poverty and hunger levels; poor school enrolment, retention and completion by girls; high incidences of gender based violence; high child and maternal mortality rates, fistulae among adolescent mothers and high levels of HIV infection among the girls and women. All these are in display among girls and adolescent mothers much due to child, early and forced marriages in these two communities.
Keeping girls out of forced marriages keeps them in school
YCD conducts ongoing community outreaches in collaboration with the police, courts, and community religious leaders to enforce the legal age requirements for marriage. Usually more than 3,000 people will be in attendance at their monthly outreaches, done on the last Friday or Saturday of the month in the district’s most vulnerable communities where child marriages are still taking place.
Here are the results of one specific project, just to give an idea of how effective these programs have been:
From 2014 to 2015 Youth Coalition for the Consolidation of Democracy championed a project called Empowering Vulnerable Adolescent Girls: End Child, Early and Forced Marriages in Traditional Authorities Lundu and Ngabu in Chikwawa District in Malawi.
- The project sent back to school 90 girls that were withdrawn from Child, Early and Forced Marriages (CEFM) thereby increasing involvement of girls and women in decision-making levels in economic, political, and social processes at local and regional levels. From July 2014 to June 2015, two hundred (200) Child, Early and Forced Marriages (CEFM) were nullified and 90 girls were sent back to school
- 110 Girls that were withdraw from CEFM from July 2014 to June 2015 and to whom formal education was no longer a possibility, were equipped with different skills such as numeracy, literacy and entrepreneurship skills, thereby helping them develop into active and equal citizens and agents of development, and spur economic growth for their communities and the nation. This increases economic participation of girls and women in economy leading to improvement in their socio-economic conditions. This also reduces gender inequalities in accessing productive resources and development opportunities
Results of the project
- Reduced number of Child, Early and Forced Marriages in the target areas as many girls were withdrawn from such marriages.
- Reduced cases of child and maternal mortality rates among the adolescent mothers as the girls are now able to negotiate decisions that affect their lives such as when to enter into marriages.
- Empowered and committed communities that value girl child and fight Child, Early and Forced Marriages
- Reduction of gender inequalities in accessing productive resources and development opportunities
- Greater economic participation of girls and women in economy leading to improvement in their socio-economic conditions.
- Improved access to primary and secondary education for girls contributing to reduced poverty of girls and women and improved family health and nutrition habits.
- Greater input from girls and women in the decisions that affect their communities
Two beneficiaries that were helped out of forced marriages and back into school