Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) has trained 50 youngwomen as advocates and continually engaging them in reaching out to fellow peers in issues of gender and women empowerment and HIV/AIDS.
Addressing reporters in Lilongwe, FPAM Executive Director Thokozani Mbendera said the training falls under ‘Preparatory Assistance on Young Women and HIV’ project which is being funded by UN Women with the First lady Dr Grace Mutharika as patron.
“We can’t deny that many young women are the ones who are getting infected by HIV than boys nowadays, now we want to change the approach from purely using NGOs in intervention but fellow young women.
“The project is reaching adolescents girls in tertiary institutions because these are role models in the society and they can champion issues of gender and women empowerment and HIV/AIDS. They are well exposed to issues and can influence behavioural change in the society,” he said, adding that the tertiary institutions included University of Malawi, Technical Colleges, Teacher training colleges and other registered private colleges.
Mbendera said the young women advocates under the 3Es, ‘Empowerment + Engagement = Equality’ project come from varying locations throughout Malawi with the identification of allies broadly with each institution identifying specified organizations and individuals.
“This enable girls and young women’s access to HIV/AIDS and SRH information and services in a youth friendly manner and in spaces closer to where they are comfortable, enhance participation and public accountability for investment in young girls and women living with HIV and create platforms and materials that inform and promote approaches that address gender inequality and provide a full range of HIV prevention options and SRHR,” he said.
Among other activities, the young women have social media campaign through whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and blogs generating various topics for debate to attract peers and start conversation on HIV/SRHR and gender activities.
They have also public education to girls and young women and launched of young women advocates 3Es project to ensure publicity and provide legitimacy of the young advocates.
Principal Secretary for the Presidential Initiative on Safe Motherhood, Chimwemwe Chipungu called on the stakeholders to join hands in helping the young women access SRH services.
“If we make them be their own ambassadors will make it easier for them to take on board gatekeepers like parents and chiefs on the project. We can’t deny that a lot of girls are still dying because of early pregnancies and HIV/AIDS that’s why even the First lady is directly involved with the project,” he said.
The project is being implemented a cross Malawi where FPAM provides both biomedical and non-biomedical health interventions.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :