Traditional Authority, Kachindamoto of Dedza District has said the Gender Equality and Empowerment (GEWE) Project has helped in improving the livelihoods of hundreds of girls who would otherwise be in dire poverty had the project not identified them.
Speaking almost five months ahead of the project closure, Kachindamoto said empowering girls who had dropped out of school due to pregnancy has been one of the best interventions measures in ensuring that these girls are able to not only take care of their homes but also sustain the lives.
“The girl child must be protected at all costs, girls have been sidelined for so long. They are taken as people whose responsibility is to bear children and take care of the homes. This is sad because this mentality is still flourishing hence the high levels of pregnancies.”
“In addition to that, if they get married, such marriages don’t last, three years is the maximum and the girl goes back to her parents or guardians and thats where trouble begins. Now realising that theres’ is a problem and that we need to deal with it is something else, that is why I am saying the sewing machines the girls got from UNFPA, with funding from EU, has been of help.
“Most of these girls are able to take care of their families better and we are sure that even if the marriages ends, they will have something to do,” she said.
According to Kachindamoto, not all girls are willing to go back to school after falling pregnant and thats were the machinery donation plays its role.
“We are not supporting that they get pregnant and start teen clubs and get machines but where a problem has arisen lets help build up the morale of these girls and not write them off. They are still citizen and can contribute positively to this country but also inspire other girls to stay in school,” she said.
Womens’ Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC) Project officer, who is the implementing partner for the GEWE project in Dedza Stella Issa said teen clubs have helped teen mothers live a better life than before. She said if GEWE had not intervened, they would be in worse situations than they are now.
Vice Chairperson of the Teen Mothers Club, seventeen year old Yasinta Samson who is pregnant with her second child said the lives of teen mothers has greatly improved since they received sewing machines from GEWE project.
“My husband does business, but it was not sustainable but when we were told by WOLREC to organise ourselves in groups, we were very excited because not only where we trained how to sew, GEWE also gave us 60 metres of clothing material, In that way, we were able to use the cloth to supply school uniforms to three schools which have sourounded, us,” she said.
According to her, ever since the group received the machines in January 2015, the teen mothers group which is comprised of girls aged between 15-18 has managed to buy three goats and one pig. Amongst themselves they have also created a Banking Nkhonde, a loan savings organisation which members contribute, and get loans at a fee then later on share the profit.
“On banking Nkhonde alone, last year in addition to the loans we took, we shared K36, 000 each. We bought inputs for our farms. Our children no longer wear rugs, we can afford a decent life,” she said.
UN representative, Mia Seppo during the first youth conference held at Bingu International Conference (BICC) said the girl child needs to be protected as research has revealed that most girls marry before their 18th birthday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :