Group Village Head (GVH) Mwawa (leads 19 village heads) of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlomba in Machinga District has appreciated the Spotlight Male Engagement Project, implemented by CRECCOM, which is under The Spotlight Initiative funded by European Union.
“The Training was eye-opening as I learned dangers of child marriages and different types of gender-based violence that my community used to practice without knowing their negative consequences. It is shocking to realize how we normalized violence against women and girls,” said Mwalwa.
The agency by many males in Traditional Authorities Kawinga and Mlomba has been harnessed around gender responsiveness. Village heads, facilitators, pastors, and sheiks were trained and are facilitating dialogue among men and boys on eliminating violence against women and girls through participatory methodologies using the Barbershop Toolkit.
“After the chiefs were empowered on the negative impact of child marriages, some of them have terminated child marriages of children below the age of 18,” said Petro.
Group Village Head Mwawa established bylaws to reduce Gender Based Violence in his community.
“Most children were absent from school and doing household chores and the coming in of the bylaws will help to end such mentality,” said VH Mwapata from Mwalwa community .
Chief Mwalwa said that most of the parents misconceived human rights as they used to say that ‘ndili ndi ufulu, mwanayu ndi wanga, ndinam’beleka ndekha’ (I have rights over my children because I birthed them. I can marry them off whenever I want to) mainly to defend themselves in child marriages.
GVH Mwalwa has put his foot down stopping all child marriages in his area. Within few months he ended 6 child marriages of children below the age of 18.
Group Village Head Nyama from TA Mlomba said that the training came at a right time when women and girls in his area were experiencing different social problems. “a total of 12 children (6 girls and 6 boys below the age of 18) are now back to school and those girls with children who are less than three months old are now waiting to go back to school when the children reach six months old same as boys from these abolished marriages ,” said Nyama.
Chief Nyama said that people from his community are now receiving messages of sexual related gender-based violence for them to recognize different types of violence that women and girls encounter in society and how to prevent them from happening
“Chiefs, religious leaders, Angaliba (Initiation Counselors), youth leaders, and motorcycle operators are some of the community leaders that were trained in barbershop toolkit,” said Petro, CRECCOM’s Community Mobilizer.