While the Constitution of Malawi provides men and women with equal rights, including the right to own property such as land there exists some barriers which include traditional and cultural practices which infringe the rights of women and girl children, women’s ignorance of law and the Malawi Bill of rights, the complex nature of the land and administration, and stigma and discrimination at the community level against women and girls and gender based violence. The very constitution and other regional and international protocols and conventions such as the Organization of the African Union (OAU) chatter, Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), provide with profound rights including protection against all forms of abuse and participation in things that concern them. In Balaka the act of women battering has reduced tremendously because of the civic education and help rendered by civil society organizations and the Balaka Police Victim support program. However, ignorance of the men, women and the girl children themselves of these laws and instruments and lack of socio-economic empowerment put the women and these children at risk from some disguised forms of gender- based abuse such as treating women as less important in decision making, property grabbing and inheritance.
In order to holistically address the above mentioned situation of abuse of women CHINANSI Foundation has put in place initiatives and measures that are contributing to reducing of gender based violence in Balaka district. The programs which Chinansi put in place are making use of simple solutions and methods and local/available resources to sustainably enhance the capacity of women and girls in realizing their potential in life thereby contributing in achieving Millennium Development Goals. This brochure is a brief pictorial overview of the work that Chinansi is doing:
1. Human Rights and Civic Education
Civic Education of Women in knowing their rights and roles as equal citizens of Malawi. This program mobilizes women through focus group discussions and debate sessions that provide women and girls to access information and knowledge about their rights and roles.
2. Support to Girl Child Education
It is believed that if girls are educated in Africa that may help reduce extreme poverty and spread of HIV and AIDS. Some practices and traditional customs do not regard girl children as important for education. If allowed to go to school it’s normally up to mid primary classes and the parents say they are satisfied if the girl child is able to read and write. Chinansi is supporting 40 vulnerable girl children with school fees, school supplies and psycho-social counseling in Balaka district.
3. Women Economic Empowerment Concept
The economic structures practiced in Balaka give the women no say to the house property including the livestock, land etc. While men are mobilized in focus group discussions to stop the practice of regarding women as less important in decision making and property inheritance the women are provided with opportunity to socio-economic development. In this program Chinansi is providing 40 women with Income Generating skills and tools which include cash crop farming, livestock production and fish farming.
4. Grandmothers in mitigating the Impact of HIV and AIDS
In Balaka, most cultural set-ups and practices make children of
the deceased parents to stay with their grandmothers. That means
the grandmothers have a role to look after themselves as well as
those HIV orphaned children. This is a challenging task for the
grandmothers because most of them are widows which had their
property grabbed after the death of their husbands. Chinansi
Foundation developed a Concept titled “Gogo Msamalira Ana”
Project which holistically support 40 old widows with farm
inputs during to sustain food security, pass on livestock
(goats) and start-up funds to run small local businesses.
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