The 2018 campaign on 16 days of activism against gender based violence (GBV) has gained momentum as so far five women of prominence have voiced out the challenges they have faced but that made them pick themselves up and be counted as equals in society.
Willson Chivhanga, executive director of NGO, Every Girl in School Alliance (EGISA) is leading the campaign Fuula (Chichewa for shout out) in conjunction with partners such as UN Women, MHub, Women Lawyers, CEWAG, SAT and Girls not Brides.
“Fuula is a campaign aimed at amplifying the voices of victims and survivors as well as stimulating national conversation around GBV so as to crush the culture of silence,” Chivhanga said.
“We had a long list if names to go through. We were looking for either survivors or advocates and activists working on the ground. In total, we will do 16 stories over the 16 day period.”
The first on the Champion Spotlight was Memory Banda who is End Child Marriage advocate and founder of Foundation 4 Girls Leadership, who said: “I have seen that initiatives like girls clubs are one of the best way of creating safe spaces in schools for our girls.
“Learning and sharing of girls experiences through the art of storytelling in these safe spaces is one of the most powerful tools in ending violence and building resilience. By encouraging open sharing within these spaces, a strong sense of authentic community is built, allowing the girls to build trust and be vulnerable with each other.”
Memory’s background is that at 22, she is a leading advocate on ending child marriage and SRHR education in schools. She believes that by teaching girls about their sexual reproductive health and rights, they can be better informed and empowered to make good choices and say NO to violence against them.
She is also an international speaker and influencer on ending child marriages. Her passion for this stemmed from growing up in a community where she saw her family and friends falling victim to early marriages. She is determined from those experiences to fight the odds and champion the fight against GBV and in particular, child marriage.
For Day 2, it was Beatrice Mateyo, the executive director of Coalition for the Empowerment of Women and Girls (CEWAG) based in Lilongwe. She is arenowned activist working on sensitizing people on what GBV is and its consequences especially on the lives of women and girls; the available mechanisms where people can report GBV and get redress as well as the responsibility of the community to report and the legal frameworks available in Malawi that guarantee protection from GBV.
Margret Tendai Mwale was for Day 3 and she is an activist and lecturer at DMI – St John the Baptist University, Lilongwe Campus. She is an advocate and activist on ending sexual harassment, primarily in the workplace. Sexual harassment is disturbing and uncomfortable and has resulted in a lot of people quitting either work, school or going to places they love because they have been sexually harassed.
Besides empowering her students with knowledge and the advocacy work she does, Memory runs an online community – ‘Putting an end to sexual harassment’ where she shares information on sexual harassment and encourages people to come out and talk about their experiences (both male and females).
She is passionate about helping people develop more assertive responses to sexual harassment experiences, call it out & expose perpetrators of such acts so that we can break the cycles.
Day 4 featured Assistant Superintendent Alexander Ngwala, who is the National Child Protection Officer in the Malawi Police Service and is one of the leading lights in the fight against GBV in Malawi.
As the National Child Protection Officer, he leads the Police’s prevention of violence against women and girls efforts through enhanced partnerships with the community and all stakeholders; strengthening youth and schools outreach activities in order to create safe school environments for learners; linking schools to police for easy reporting of cases affecting children; responding to all forms of violence against women and girls; providing care and support to victims of GBV and Violence Against Children and bringing offenders before courts.
Juliet Chimwaga Sibale is the Chief Legal Aid advocate for Southern Region and Gender and Human Rights lawyer and was featured for Day 5.
Over her many years of practising as a lawyer, Juliet has tackled over 500 cases of GBV through various courts in Malawi. These cases range from grievous bodily harm; domestic violence and disputes and sexual violence such as defilement and incest against girls under the age of 16.
In 2016, she prosecuted a ‘popular’ case in which a 14-year-old girl in Lumbadzi, employed as a domestic helper, was being sexually assaulted by her employer’s husband who happened to be a popular pastor. The matter came to light and was reported after the girl fell pregnant. After a protracted legal battle, the perpetrator was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison.
Juliet believes that, to create safe spaces for women and girls there must be, deliberate awareness of GBV issues, sexual offences and legal frameworks in schools and communities; support systems in place to aid survivors to rebuild their lives e.g. scholarship opportunities; and strong victim protection systems and structures in place to ensure the safety of those who choose to stand up and speak out against GBV.
Day 6 was for Lucy Trizah Titus Gondwe, an entrepreneur and activist. Her resume is that she is NOT a victim but a survivor.
Sold into modern day slavery at the age of nine by her father; raped at the age of 16 in school; chased away from home and married to an abusive husband for years, Trizah’s life story is a sad tale. But as for Trizah, she managed to find purpose in her pain and has now dedicated her life to lifting women and girls who are facing similar situations to have the courage to speak out and/or walk away.
Trizah has managed to reclaim her power and rebuild her life and is now a recording artist and a business owner of Trizah Recyclers – a growing upcycling and re-purposing entreprise. Her dream is to transfer the skills she has to women and girls so that they may gain financial independence.
The campaign is proving to be a huge success in terms of raising awareness and calling for an end to the abuse of vulnerable women and children.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :