Journalists drawn from various media houses on Friday conducted a media tour in Dowa district by the Organization for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development Initiative (OSSEDI Malawi) to appreciate progress being made by partners and stakeholders towards accelerated efforts in Ending Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWG) in the district.
The journalists visited chiefs who are the custodian of culture, the role they are playing in enforcing by-laws to end child marriages, harmful cultural practices and other forms of Gender Based Violence and survivors of violence how they have been welcomed back into their communities and what they are doing in their everyday life.
OSSEDI Malawi alongside its implementing partner, Plan Malawi International are implementing Ending Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWG) program in five  Traditional Authorities Mponela, Dzoole, Mkukula, Msakambewa and Chiwere in Dowa district.
Speaking to the media, Dowa District Council’s Director of Planning and Development, Loveness Nkunika-Silungwe, said the council is satisfied with progress being made by Spotlight Initiative program in issues of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Ending Violence against Women and Girls and chiefs enforcement of the by-laws to end child marriages, and other harmful cultural practices fueling GBV in the district.
Nkunika-Silungwe said issues of violence against women and girls in Dowa, are a serious one and is everywhere, previously there have been cases but not reported and with the coming in of many organizations, cases are being reported, an indication that there is good reporting mechanism from community structures that fight Gender Based Violence in the district,’’She said.
“Cases of Gender Based Violence are being reported, partners and Government sectors are taking up the issues to police and the courts, there is good coordination on the ground and most cases that don’t need police attention, are dealt with at the community level,”said Nkunika-Silungwe.
On her part, OSSEDI Malawi project coordinator for Dowa, Mphatso Zulu, said her organization and Plan Malawi International are implementing Ending Violence against Women and Girls in the district such as facilitating the development of community by-laws, and building capacity of chiefs so that they are able to enforce strict punitive measures against the perpetrators of Gender Based Violence in the district.
Zulu said the program now, is engaging men and boys who are the perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and can champion change amongst fellow men towards accelerated efforts in Ending Violence against Women and Girls saying the program is supporting the vulnerable marginalized women in economic empowerment.
“OSSEDI has trained 80 women in T/As Mkukula and Msakambewa areas in Village Savings and Loans (VSL) and business management and were given goats for them to improve economically as this is also part of sustainability measure of the project,”said Zulu.
However, Zulu said the project met a strong challenge in the course of implementation, Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry reported that cases of gender violence increased by 25 percent because of COVID-19 restrictions saying they were able to strategize the conditions on the ground and achieved commendable results.