Over 2,000 girl school drop outs readmitted in Mulanje

About 2,005 girls who dropped out of schools have been readmitted in Mulanje district in the last three years, thanks to the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) project.

During the same period, about 400 cases of gender-based violence (GBV) have also been reported with some at the courts, others concluded and perpetrators serving jail terms.

30,000 adolescent girls and young women have also been reached with HIV messages and testing.

This was disclosed on Monday at Milonde Primary School ground in the area of Senior Chief Mabuka during a visit by Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati to appreciate the progress of the project.

The project is being implemented by a consortium of three organisations namely Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO), Malawi Girl Guides Association (MAGGA) and Christian Aid with funding from Global Fund.

Speaking at the event, Christian Aid Country Director Luke Theu said the successes have been registered through the project’s three main interventions.

“The first intervention is to do with HIV/Aids that is focusing on awareness and testing. The second intervention is to do with keeping girls in school.

“The third intervention is to do with gender-based violence and in this intervention we work with YONECO,” he said.

MAGGA National Coordinator Mphatso Baluwa said the organisation is implementing different interventions in order to raise awareness to adolescent girls and young women on HIV and AIDS.

“As we are working towards this achievement there are a lot of areas we are looking at like GBV,” she said.

YONECO Executive Director MacBain Mkandawire said the project has enhanced reporting of GBV cases as well as follow up of cases.

“One of the biggest achievements is that previously a lot of cases were not been reported and not been followed up in Mulanje and over the five years we have followed a number of cases. We have also brought to justice a number of people who have violated the rights of girls and women,” he said.

Mkandawire said the project has also empowered young girls and women economically through Village Savings and Loans (VSL) groups.

“You heard from the testimonies one of the girls actually testifying that over the period has managed to build her own house brick house and iron roofed,” he said.

Rosemary Mose, 16, a Form Two student at Mulanje Secondary School, said through the AGYW project, she is now able to protect herself from getting pregnant and contracting HIV.

Mose said the project has also equipped her with various skills to deal with day to day challenges girls face and how to report GBV to relevant authorities.

“We have also been educated on our rights and encouraged to remain in school and complete our education,” she said.

Speaking after touring pavilions and hearing testimonies, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati commended the consortium for the successes registered.

“We have seen that Yoneco, Magga and Christian Aid are doing a commendable job in making sure that girls remain in school even after they have been impregnated or withdrawn from marriages and in bringing perpetrators to justice.

Kaliati advised community leaders and various community structures to take a leading role in fighting child marriages and GBV.

She also encouraged young girls to prioritize education and refrain from behaviours that might lead them into early marriages, teenage pregnancies and contracting HIV.

She also called on the police and the judiciary to make sure that all rape and defilement perpetrators are arrested and their cases expedited.

The AGYW project was launched in 2016 order to provide girls and young women aged 15 to 24 with opportunities to improve their livelihood, while preventing and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS. The project will be phased out in December 2020.

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