Traditional and faith leaders in Machinga have commended new approaches being implemented in the district in order to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The remarks were made during a two-day exchange visit among traditional and religious leaders from Traditional Authorities Nkula, Ngokwe and Paramount Chief Kawinga organised by Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) in partnership with Trocaire and Society of Women Against AIDs (SWAM).
Group Village Headman Ntaja said the approaches which include the community scorecard and barbershop toolkit which focuses on taking messages on violence against women and girls to men who are usually the perpetrators of such evils, have been an eye opener.
He said the approaches will help to address issues that contribute to gender-based violence (GBV), sexual gender based violence (SGBV) and harmful practices.
“The barbershop toolkit will assist us to reach out to more men with messages of gender-based violence. It is a good approach because more men do not attend awareness campaigns but with this tool we will find men in one place like barbershops, Bawo and football matches and share messages on violence against women and girls,” he said.
Reverend Marshall Kutama from Ntaja Zambezi Evangelical Church said since the introduction of the Start Awareness Support Action (SASA) tool by YONECO, cases of violence against women and girls are decreasing among church members as well as the Muslim community.
Yoneco Programme Support Manager Sewenthe Chipofya Mahwayo said the knowledge imparted on traditional and religious leaders from Nkula and Kawinga will help them to replicate what their fellow leaders from Traditional Authority Ngokwe are doing towards eliminating violence against women and girls.
“Key to it is that men are in the forefront in supporting women when ever they have experienced any abuse and violence. The committee which has been established in Ngokwe at TA level is also playing a key role in case management,” she said.
Machinga District Gender Development Officer Imran Kamwana said the district has been registering high cases of gender-based violence due to lack of involvement of men in the fight against the vice and cultural beliefs.
“For a long time men have not been taken on board in the fight against gender-based violence but with the coming of this project which is engaging men in all gender-related activities we are seeing much improvement.
YONECO is implementing the Spotlight project with financial support from UN Women through Trocaire by working with religious and traditional leaders as HeForShe champions towards elimination of violence against women and girls.