Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, has hailed Action Aid for implementing Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) programme, which will help them understand issues of gender-based violence(GBV), sexual reproduction health as well as prevention of HIV/Aids and tuberculosis (TB).
Speaking during the Malawi’s Global Fund Programme Grant on Thursday in Lilongwe, Kaliati said young women are able to understand how they can protect themselves and they will be economically empowered and much educated. They will also be able to decide when to get married, who to date and how they will provide for their families. As some women and young girls are mentally challenged, Action Aid aims to help the government with addressing mental health challenges across Malawi.
She said, “In fact there are number of areas where we are supporting Action Aid and all the clusters under Action Aid funded by the World Bank. Identification by policy programmes: HIV/AIDS, GBV and also sexual reproduction health, those are implementing government policies.”
The Minister also outlined that Action Aid knows where the government would like to work and focus on that fund out of it. Even with Global Fund their focusing areas were in line with government policies and she thanked them because they were able to reach every district save for Likoma. In doing so the people were able to know about issues to do with HIV/AIDS: the prevention of it, how to contract it: reproduction health and family planning issues.
Kaliati, who awarded 87% performance to Action Aid, urged other organisation to start empowering women economically. She said she is happy that they tackled the issues of GBV, TB and HIV/AIDs because now men, women and girls travel short distance to access testing and counselling.
She further said, “Action Aid has brought clusters within village set up that is why the issue of HIV AIDS is scaling down especially having empowered the young to know the dangers of contracting the disease. But we are now much challenged with GBV which is rampant in both the rural and urban areas, that’s why the 87% comes in the 13% because we have not done much on issues of GBV. This is part of the reason why the Ministry wants to empower women economically, for when empowered they are able to stand and run away from GBV.”
She appealed to police, magistrates and judges to deny bail to those accused of defilment or rape.
In his part Action Aid Executive Director, Assani Golowa, said the grant which ran from 2018 and ended in December 2020 was focusing more on adolescent young women and girls, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and female sex workers.
He said, ” We had a programme working with community based organisations in village. As the programme phases finished, we have skill sets that have been left in communities. We have girls that are able to prevent themselves from contracting HIV/AIDS through the skills that were imparted to them.”
“We have communities that are able to collect information on television in their communities, volunteers who collect sputum and process it to the authorities for testing. There are sexual reproduction activities that have been very successful in almost all districts in this country.”
He also said overall in the areas of HIV/AIDS and TB they had made tremendous strides and the Minister had visited some communities and witnessed the achievements that they have had at community level.
He added, “We have achieved this through co-operation and support from the Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and working with Ministry of Health.”
Golowa added that their biggest challenge was HIV/AIDS as stigma is still there in communities and the people do not want to be tested in fear that they may not have children. These are some beliefs and community perception that prevent adequate implement of their programmes.
By Dean Chisambo