Former PS Dr. Shawa proposes reintroduction of community based population education programme to address sexuality and mental health problems

Catholic Girl Guides and Scouts (CGGS) has asked government to consider reintroducing Community Based Population and Parental Sexuality Education Programmes to enhance parental role in addressing sexuality and mental health problems affecting young people in Malawi.

CGGS coordinator Dr. Mary Shawa observed that sexuality education for children and adolescents plays a crucial part in their sexual and reproductive health and general well-being; hence, the need for school and families to share the responsibility of providing sexuality education.

Shawa made the remarks on Sunday during St. Patrick’s Catholic Young Ladies High Tea Party in Lilongwe. The party was held under the theme: Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030.

Dr. Mallen Tawina Machika giving a talk to young girls during the session–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, NYasa Times

The Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare said nearly one in six children suffer from mental health problems due to various factors such as depression, anxiety and conduct disorder.

She said introducing population and sexuality education programmes targeting parents would help in eradicating cases of early pregnancies and suicide among children.

“These programmes would equip parents with information that is critical in child raising. In turn, the parents will be giving their children right information about sexuality and mental health,” said Shawa.

“As parents, we need to give our children right information. I know most parents …let us organize sessions where our children can speak with specialists. Children must know that they were not born with drugs; drugs were introduced to them by someone else,” she added.

Speaking to the children, Shawa challenged them to desist from using substances and drugs. She warned that drug and substance abuse could kill their future.

“You must know that drugs do not make someone clever. A drug does not make you special. It just kills your brain cells. So, when it kills your brain cells, your thinking capacity changes. You think you are clever, intelligent and superior to everybody else. Yet, those who look at you consider you as the most stupid person,” she said.

Shawa further warned the girls to desist from participating in activities designed to coerce them to join lesbianism. She said relationships between or among people of the same sex is evil and against the plan of God.

“I want to challenge everyone. No one was born a lesbian or gay. People are just brainwashed to believe they are lesbians or gays. So, as a country, let us be careful. People are taking advantage of our poverty to brainwash us on the gay or lesbian narrative,” she said.

A role model for the day, a 24-year-old Dr. Mallen Tawina Machika, challenged young girls to work hard in their studies.

Machika said poverty is not enough reason for a girl child to stop realizing her dream.

Speaking on behalf of parents, Nozga Kimani commended CGGS for organizing the session. Kimani described the sessions as right platforms for promoting good behavior and mental well-being among girls.

Meanwhile, Shawa has disclosed that CGGS is planning to roll out training sessions targeting parents across the country with sexuality and mental health education.

She said the aim of the training sessions and continuing education is to ensure that the information and counselling they give are accurate, evidence-based, appropriate and free from discrimination, gender bias and stigma.

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