This week, UN Women has been supporting their implementing partners in Dedza and Salima to strengthen safe spaces for girls and child marriage survivors in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the Elimination of Gender Based Violence thematic pillar UN Women has supported a total of 13,450 girls child marriage survivors in 10 districts with different with different skills/life skills.
UN Women has provided scholarships to 750 girls and young women in Dedza and Salima in an effort to keep child marriage survivors in school and to complete their education. In addition 1,000 girls are part of the virtual skills school project that is implemented in the districts with support from the Scottish Government.
UN Women has also donated a bicycle to each of the 750 girls and young women to ease mobility challenges they cited as a contributing factor to their dropping out of school.
Both the scholarships and bicycles have been provided through the Eliminating Child Marriages Project, which is a pilot project being funded by the Indian, Brazilian and South African, IBSA/Facility.
Locally, the project is being implemented by the Malawi Girl Guides Association (Magga) and Malawi Interfaith Association (MIAA) through the support of UN Women.
UN Women Representative Clara Anyangwe, officially unveiled the safe spaces, distribution of bicycles and scholarships at the headquarters of Senior Chief Kachindamoto in Dedza on Monday 24th August and TA Mwanza on Tuesday, 25th August in Salima.
Anyangwe disclosed that the project is assisting the child marriage survivors to access education through the bursaries program and skills development opportunities complimented under the We-learn programme, which is also being implemented in this area.
“Recognizing the need to build the capacity of chiefs in supporting girls to remain in school and withdraw others from child marriages, the project has supported the creation of a community dialogue and safe spaces in the areas under Senior Chief Kachindamoto in Dedza and Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwanza in Salima.
Traditional leaders in Malawi have played a critical role in championing the agenda of ending child marriages through Gewe [Girls Education and Women Empowerment] and Ending Child Marriage Projects, which are receiving funding from UN and other development partners,” she said.
Ms. Anyangwe emphasized that the IBSA Ending Child Marriages Pilot project is building on the foundation set by other stakeholders and development partners in the district and at the national level.
She said the skills development component is critical to the empowerment of young women and girls in Dedza to stay out marriages, which will build on the back to school programme implemented by both chiefs.
She said UN Women is shocked with recent revelations that the country has registered a steady increase in the number of unwanted and unplanned teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the few months that schools have been closed over coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
However, Anyangwe stated that this does not mean that Covid-19 has caused teenage pregnancies, child marriage or violence against women and girls but that it has exacerbated the situation in light of school closures.
“It has just brought these to the fore, away from the shadows, into the spotlight. I would therefore like to urge all us to strengthen our efforts in protecting the girl child from teen pregnancies and early, forced and child marriages through enhanced coordination among district and community stakeholders,” said Anyangwe.
Senior Chief Kachindamoto said the bursaries, bicycles and safe spaces will go a long way in motivating the girl child to remain in school and traditional leaders to work hard in addressing child marriages and early teen pregnancies in the Dedza.
Something that can be said by the Chief in Mwanza, DC and or MP of the area.
In his remarks, Member of Parliament for Dedza East, Patrick Bandawe, pleaded with the girls and young women to jealously guard their scholarships and bicycles against abuse.
“These bicycles and bursaries have been provided to enable you go and return from school in good time. Don’t use them for taxi services. You will demotivate the donors,” said Bandawe.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :