District Social Welfare Officer for Dowa, Jonathan Bonongwe, has hailed Spotlight Initiative programs for bringing positive change towards accelerated efforts of Ending Violence against Women and Girls [EVAWG] in Dowa district.
Bonongwe said sexual denial of conjugal rights, illegal divorce, desertion and family abandonment are some of the forms of Gender Based Violence [GBV] that have made the district to be associated with bad news, destroying its good image besides being called a food basket district.
He said organizations and partners have tried their best to reach out to all people, including those in the hard to reach areas of the district, engaging women leaders on social norms and harmful cultural practices in Nkhanza Toto project, a women and girls Movement in Malawi.
Giving updates on how the District’s Social Welfare Office has done from January –April 2021 during Nkhanza Toto conference on Ending Violence against Women and Girls [EVAWG] held in Mponela-Dowa, Bonongwe said 45 child marriages have been nullified, 43 teen mothers and girls were withdrawn from early marriages and trained in tailoring services and a successful development of integrated work plan as a tool to monitor Ending Violence against Women and Girls in the district.
Bonongwe said 60 chiefs, 60 Area Development Committee members were trained on human rights, gender equitable norms, attitudes and behavior. 30 women advocates participated in scorecards with 35 men trained as male champions to counsel and test men.
He said inconsistency in reporting Gender Based Violence [GBV] cases to the right authority, weak coordination among partners implementing GBV programs and inadequate knowledge of the laws of Malawi still remains high among members of the public in the district.
“…GBV case follow-ups have remained a challenge leading to most cases not fully addressed, some family members decides on their own to withdraw the cases and this again is a challenge…,’’ lamented Bonongwe.
He called upon partners and stakeholders to intensify messages on Ending Violence against Women and Girls [EVAWG] for all to take part as a project being implemented in the respective communities so that women and girls are fully protected from all forms of Gender Based Violence in the district.
The officer then, called upon partners to come open and share their work plans with the Gender Technical Working Group [GTWG] for easy coordination and also a great need for a holistic approach to Gender Based Violence [GBV] survivors through empowerment.
In her remarks, Principal Nutrition Hiv/Officer for Dowa, Lusungu Kamkondo, said Gender Based Violence targets women and girls because of their identity calling for mainstreaming of GBV programs with other programs which are being implemented in the district.
She asked the gender stakeholders to put their structures in place for sustainability purposes of the programs and effective coordination in reporting saying this will win the fight against GBV in the district.
Nkhanza Toto project: ‘’A Women and Girls Movement in Malawi’’ is being implemented in Dowa district by OXFAM in partnership with Girls Empowerment Network [GENET] and Centre for Victimized Women and Children [CAWVOC] with support from Comic Relief.
By Vincent Gunde