2014 was a very productive year for YWCA Malawi and we were extremely active both nationally and internationally in advancing the agenda of women and leading change. We started the Power to Change Campaign locally as well as became involved with Girls not Brides both locally and internationally. We also participated at the African Union, CEDAW, UNFPA, International AIDS Conference, SRHR training in Tanzania and PMNCH in Cape Town.
The World YWCA secured three year funding with NORAD (the Norwegian Government‘s international development assistance body) to work with eight countries to expand access to evidence-based comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health education and service referrals among young people, including safe spaces to discuss faith, culture and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The YWCA of Malawi is one of the recipient countries.
The project is titled “Building the assets of girls aged 15-24” and has the following objectives:
- a) provide safe, non-judgemental spaces for young people to access comprehensive SRHR education and referrals including girl-only safe spaces
- b) establish a network of confidential, youth-friendly referral services for HIV voluntary counselling and testing, contraceptive access and abortion care
- c) country level dialogue with religious and community leaders to address faith and cultural barriers to young women accessing SRHR services
The project is being carried out in 3 villages (Mbewa, Nakhonyo, magombo) in Mulanje district which is found in the southern part of Malawi.
1. Baseline Survey
The first activity in the year was conducting a baseline survey. The objectives of the survey were as follows.
- a) To collect data on the knowledge level, attitude and practice of young women 15-24 related to sexual and reproductive health rights and respected services
- b) To assess attitude and perception of community leaders, religious leaders, teachers and parents on information, access, sex education in schools, teacher pupil communication, parent child communication as well as on sexual and reproductive health services for young adolescents in the community,
- c) To establish the type and quality of youth friendly services provided by health care providers to young adolescents in the target community
The results of the survey were used to guide further project planning and development.
Summary of Findings
The survey results show that in girls aged 15-24 in the area, While 64% of the girls are married, only 1.9% of respondents obtain information on SRH from doctors and the highest number of girls get their information from friends (27%). 46% of respondents had their first sexual relationship at ages 14-17 while 81% did nothing to avoid pregnancy. 71% have never discussed family planning methods and 50% were not concerned about contacting HIV or STIs. 5.5% of the young women interviewed reported that during their first sexual intercourse they had been forced. The survey shows that young women and girls do not have access to accurate information of sexuality, reproductive matters and are not taking measures to protect themselves. They have no one to turn to to discuss these issues.
2. Meeting with District Executive committee
The YWCA met with the District Executive committee. It s a requirement that before any organisation implements any project in the district it be presented to the district executive committee for review and approval. This is to ensure ownership by the district and to create partners. Mrs Bwanausi and Ms Chidawaoka presented to the committee and it was a success with the project being welcomed into the district.
3. Meeting with Stakeholders
The meeting was convened by the YWCA and comprised of NGO‘s, community based organisations and faith based organisations from the district. The aim of the meeting was to learn from other organisations already working in the district, to share experiences and create partnerships for implementation of the project.
4. Establishment of youth groups
Throughout the first year, volunteers from the National office and existing youth members from the Mulanje Branch have been engaging youth in the district. This was done in schools, in churches, markets and even convening gatherings. The aim was to sensitise youth on issues of SRHR and to form youth groups so as to empower and support one another.
Youth volunteer from National office addressing Youth in Mulanje
5. Community dialogue with religious leaders/traditional leaders on SRHR
Following the baseline survey where information on attitudes and perceptions of community leaders, religious leaders, teachers and parents on information, access, sex education in schools, teacher pupil communication, parent child communication as well as on sexual and reproductive health services for young adolescents in the community were gathered.
The YWCA held a one day workshop with religious and traditional leaders. The workshop had the following objectives
- To improve understanding of SRHR & HIV in general more especially the impact on adolescent health
- To increase knowledge on SRHR
- To develop Joint action plans for addressing key challenges identified in the dialogues
- To develop Advocacy areasThe session started with a presentation which gave information as to what Sexual and reproductive health and rights are. Participants were taught the different components of SRHR what the human rights aspects are. This was followed by a presentation informing participants of the results of the baseline survey, findings on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women in the area. The presentation also reported on the perceptions and attitude of the community of SRHR for youth. Thereafter, there was a presentation on the role of religious leaders in advancing the sexual and reproductive health for all persons. This presentation highlighted the tremendous power and influence that the religious sector has in bringing about change in the community.The Participants were then split into groups. Each group was to explore Challenges/ Problems in the community regarding SRHR. Four groups were created and each focused on a particular group of peopleFuture plansIt was agreed that another workshop was needed to develop their skills to disseminate SRHR information.Group Photo of Participants, religious and traditional leaders members.
7. Launch of Power to change program
The YWCA held a rally to officially launch the project in the community. The objectives were to:
- Share with the community results of the baseline survey
- Gain community support and interestThe members of the community came in great numbers. Chief from the area spoke in great support of YWCA SRHR project commending them for the Job well done, and underlined why it is needed and the many challenges they face. They also informed the community on activities that were to take place. The crowd then enjoyed music and performances being in the form of drama and traditional dances. These were choreographed to share key SRHR messages all tailored to spread key SRHR messages.8. Capacity BuildingThe YWCA of Malawi held another workshop for it members and volunteers in the national office. They were taught
- leadership skills
- Advocacy skill
- Presentation skills
- Communications and use of social media
- As well as basics on project management10. Media CoverageThe Project activities and its advocacy messages have appeared multiple times in the local newspaper the Nation and Daily times. Raising awareness on the Issues affecting youthCOLLABORATION/ INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENTAfrican UnionThe 22nd African Union heads of state Summit took place from 20th to 31st of January 2014. Over fifty women, young women and girls from; Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, DRC, Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia, gathered in Addis Ababa, ahead of the AU summit, representing the following organizations: YWCA, GIRL HUB, IPAS, Her Zimbwabwe, Rozaria Memorial Trust, FAWE, REPA. The YWCA of Malawi was represented by Mrs Alice Bwanausi and Wonawaka Chidyawaonga.
Ahead of the AU summit, under the leader ship of the world YWCA young women and their General Secretaries representing different YWCA‘s across Africa, gathered together at the Panorama Hotel in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, for an Orientation and Advocacy Training for Young Women.
The key objectives for the training were as follows:
- – Team building for the young women and adolescent girls
- – Review of the program for the 10 days in Addis Ababa
- – Understanding the African Union and its ways of work at Summit
- – Identifying key issues for AU advocacy
- – Training in communications and social media.The two delegates from Malawi were active participants in all the activities that were happening.
- They were part of the groups in drafting the declaration on the future young women want.
- They also participated in a two-day Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) forum which was coordinated and hosted by Femme Afrique Solidariate, in order to integrate young women‘s views and concerns into the main discussions, policy recommendations, and advocacy actions.
- They also participated in the Youth dialogue Hosted by Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation and AU Youth Division on 29 January.The height of all activities took place on 30th January, when the WYWCA hosted the 2nd high Level Inter-Generational Dialogue on ―The Future Young Women and Girls Want‖ & Launch of ―the Girl Declaration‖, at a breakfast morning held at the Radisson Blue Hotel. The main activity was the reading of the statement by young women and girls. The document is an advocacy and policy influencing tool, which seeks to ensure the full implementation of the post 2015 MDGs with the inclusion and full participation of young women and girls.The breakfast was also used as a platform to network and dialogue on the contents of the statement with various other invited guests.At the main conference the young women and their mentors advocated to the many heads of state present as well as attended the side events.
At the end of the summit, the following action points were agreed upon by the delegates, these were to be done in their respective countries to continue with the cause:
- – Engage government policy makers by ensuring that we sit on committees and forums addressing the MDG‘s post 2015 agenda.
- – Present the statement to, the head of state, the ministers of Gender, Agriculture, Economic Planning, Health and Education.
- – Engage the press, in informing the public on the presence of the YWCA at the AU summit and sharing the contents of the statement.
- – Follow up on contacts made with funding agencies, to build partnerships. Commission on the status of women – 6 march to 22 marchThe Commission on the Status of Women is one of the major global advocacy spaces where the World YWCA participates annually. It is an opportunity to advance the strategic framework outcomes of women practising transformative, shared and intergenerational leadership in upholding and respecting women’s rights, including by influencing agreed conclusions on the CSW theme and other relevant resolutions. The CSW 58 took place in New York from March 10-21 on the theme: Challenges and achievements in the implementations of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.The YWCA of Malawi had a representative at CSW. Mtisunge was a short term intern for the world YWCA. At CSW 58 YWCA women and young women did what they do best, speaking up for the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of young women; raising awareness on eliminating early, forced and child marriage; demonstrating Inter-generational leadership with young women as facilitators and speakers; offering insight and key language for the Outcome Document; and building networks to confront gender discrimination.Mtisunge spoke on many different panels including organised by World YWCA together with Norwegian agency and NORAD. She spoke connecting faith and women‘s right as well as the complex and discriminatory attitudes presented as tradition or culture. She gave accounts of human rights violations that young women face in Malawi. Mtisunge also spoke at Helvi seminar organised by government of Finland where she spoke on the status of sexual and reproductive health amongst adolescents in Malawi.
The YWCA worked effortlessly to ensure the voices of young women were heard and participated in different activities.
- Advocacy engagement – advocacy material prepared prior to event i.e. post cards,
- Parallel Events: Participants in the Parallel Events stream attended events for multiple reasons: (i) as a speaker or panel expert, (ii) to support World YWCA speakers or panellists, (iii) to support World YWCA advocacy by building or reinforcing connections with particular organisations or individuals and to raise World YWCA issues in the question and answer sessions, (iv) as part of the Women‘s Rights Caucus strategy to counter the overpowering religious right presence/voice at CSW, (v) as part of the communications strategy, and/or (vi) out of personal interest or professional development.
- Side Events – Participants in the Side Events stream attended events for multiple reasons: (i) as a speaker or panel expert, (ii) to support World YWCA speakers or panellists, (iii) to support World YWCA advocacy by building or reinforcing connections with governments, organisations or individuals and to raise World YWCA issues in the question and answer sessions, (iv) as part of the Women‘s Rights Caucus strategy to counter the overpowering religious right presence/voice at CSW, (v) as part of the communications strategy, and/or (vi) out of personal interest or professional development.
- Communications: The Communications team coordinated all communications with the YWCA movement about CSW.
- Language Team – The Language Team identified and acted on the opportunities to influence the CSW negotiations on the HIV Resolution and on certain aspects of the Agreed Conclusions.
- HIV Resolution – Participants in the HIV Resolution stream closely followed HIV Resolution negotiations. Delegates influenced the HIV Resolution negotiations in a number of ways: (i) drafting language suggestions both for the World YWCA advocacy strategy and the Women‘s Rights Caucus advocacy strategy, (ii) actively building relationships with and lobbying member state negotiators, and (iii) participating in and reporting back to the Women‘s Rights Caucus and LBT Caucus.
- Agreed Conclusions – Participants initially sought to follow the Agreed Conclusions negotiations and to participate actively in lobbying member state negotiators. It quickly became apparent that the delegation did not have the capacity to actively influence both the HIV Resolution negotiations and the Agreed Conclusions negotiations. We made the decision to focus on the HIV Resolution because of the YWCA‘s expertise and influence on the issue of women and HIV.
- High level meetings – Ambassador of El Salvador to the United Nations, Director of UN Women. Australia Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Director of UNDP
UNFPA – Building a faith-based momentum
With the generous support of NORAD, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, UNFPA has embarked in 2013 on a year-long project, Building a Faith-inspired Movement to support the SRH and RR Agenda in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Numerous activities have already taken place throughout 2014. During the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 58), convened in March 2014, UNFPA, World YWCA, Islamic Relief International and the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women co- convened a roundtable of CSO representatives of the voices of 13 women of faith from North and South. During the Commission on Population and Development (CPD 47), convened in April 2014, UNFPA, UN Women and the International Association for Feminist Economics
co-convened an event on the influence of economic and religious factors on women‘s empowerment, SRH and RR, and human rights, with 12 participants in attendance.
The YWCA OF Malawi has been an active participant in this project. At the commission on the status of women The President Dr Mtisunge Kachingwe spoke at the plenary titled ̳Intergenerational Faith and Culture Dialogue on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV, and Ending Child, Early and Forced Marriage in a Single Generation‖. The dialogue took place in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, UN Headquarters New York. Other panellists included- Rudelmar de Faria, World Council of Churches, Azra Abdul Cader, ARROW, Azza Karam, UNFPA and Haldis Kårstad, Norwegian Church Aid – such an important topic addressing the intersections of faith,
Culture and SRHR.
In June 2014 YWCA Malawi further participated in a consultation organised by UNFPA in Istanbul Turkey – Building a Faith-Inspired Movement to Support the SRH agenda in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The meeting had two main objectives:
- To reach a consensus of shared common knowledge, drawing from the participants‘ respective backgrounds and experiences, as to how faith-based and faith-inspired organisations and activism have been engaging with SRH and RR-related issues
- To establish a critical set of priorities for action –inspired by the wisdom of the world‘s religions—to realize the common objective of ensuring a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person‘s potential is fulfilled with dignity.The YWCA Malawi representative did well to highlight the work of YWCA Malawi, express challenges faced in the country as well as opportunities for success.In September further participation by YWCA was to a meeting called in New York hosted by UNFPA titled; A Call to Action: Faith and Reproductive Health Post 2015 18-19 September 2014 United Nations, New York,
The meeting had two main objectives:1. Facilitate the UN convening of this coordinated global movement of faith-based actors in support of SRHR with secular women’s rights actors;
2. Provide a UN platform for this joint movement to be seen and heard by governmental delegations at a key moment in multi-lateral diplomacy and development dynamics – i.e. the United Nations General Assembly, in September 2014.Mtisunge Kachingwe Participated at this event and spoke on SRH, Reproductive Rights and Youth: A Moral & Cultural Imperative. The discussion was rich and produced an outcome document which was then presented to the UN as well as the white paper (still under review). Mtisunge then read the outcome document a call to action together with a colleague from Indonesia.
International Aids Conference
The 20th international AIDS conference was held in Melbourne Australia this year with a theme stepping up the pace. The conference is aimed at bringing together leading scientists, public health experts, policy makers and the HIV affected community to translate recent scientific advances into action that will address ways to end the epidemic within the current context of significant global economic challenges.
Stepping up the pace recognizes that we are at a critical time and there is a need to capture the optimism that has recently emerged and build on it to ensure that HIV remains on top of the global agenda. The pace needs to further increase to ultimately reverse the trajectory of the epidemic.
The YWCA of Malawi was represented by Victoria Nnensa who was part of the world YWCA delegation.
Prior to the AIDs conference the YWCA Australia hosted a preconference training institute where the
YWCA delegates would share their experiences and the work their YWCA‘s were doing in their countries. Present were YWCA delegates from Australia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Albania, Kenya, Canberra, India, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, Honduras, Benin, Belize, Sierra Leone and from the world YWCA. The biggest challenge getting other colleagues from some countries was the immigration department which denied them their visas but with the help of YWCA Australia, other colleagues came through.
Intergenerational dialogue on SRHR and HIV was held and the panelists included Hendrica Okondo, Lalchhuanzuali from India, Sylvia John from Papua new Guinea, Marcie Martinez from Belize. It was evident that there are many factors contributing to the HIV/AIDs
epidemic and that they vary with each region. Important in Africa were traditional practices including initiation ceremonies, early marriages and lack of information as key issues and intravenous drug use in the western countries. Another important lesson was how YWCA Belize uses barbershop and salons to share information and distribute condoms. Such places can be capitalized on and used as safe spaces and for access to information in other areas.
The weekend prior to the opening of International Aids conference, the faith community held a preconference at the Melbourne catholic mission, stepping up in faith. Faith leaders from different backgrounds discussed at length how as a faith community we have worked toward the fight in combating HIV.
With opened with a plenary session: Our journey with HIV so far; lessons from the past to shape the future. The panel included Rev. Phumzile Mabizela (INERELA+), Sylvie John (YWCA), Mr. Ken Moala (pacific network diversity Australia, Outreach ministries) and Swami Advayananda Sarasvati (Arsha Vidya Ashram). Faith leadership has come far in terms of involvement in HIV/AIDS considering how we are coming from a time when not even health practitioners wanted to treat patients.
Different plenary sessions were held later, the YWCA presented on faith, culture and young women. Presenting was Victoria Nnensa, lalchuanzuali and Andrea from YWCA. The key issues that were brought up were early marriages, teenage pregnancies, discrimination and harmful traditional practices such as initiation ceremonies that are driving the HIV epidemic. Most faith-based organizations and churches are the largest providers of education, health services, nutrition and sanitation programmes in communities. These are services that support the fundamental rights and freedoms, which include ensuring access to health care and protection, respect of privacy, ensuring human wellbeing.
With over 15,000 delegates from over 75 countries worldwide, the opening ceremony of the 20th international AIDS conference was a kaleidoscope of faith, love, unity and most of all hope. From the different accents to the colourful displays in the booths, the encouraging powerful stories to the sad moving stories, one could not just get enough.
The conference was opened with a harsh reminder of the fallen MH17, colleagues on board and the other passengers. On a Wednesday, former US president Bill Clinton told the world AIDs conference that and AIDs free generation is within reach but he said achievements made in the fight against AIDs should not be an excuse for people to rest on their laurels. He highlighted success of the Clinton foundation in less economically developed countries and the need to continue the works in a bid combat HIV/AIDs.
Over the days, it was evident that Africa was the continent with the highest HIV prevalence rates, particularly concentrated in sub Saharan Africa and one with the biggest challenges. More than one in 5 adults in sub Saharan Africa is infected with HIV. 63% of the 2.1 million adolescent living with HIV are is eastern and southern Africa, 18% in West and Central Africa (Lancet, July 2014).
Throughout the conference the YWCA booth had been very bright and colourful in the global village. With our selfie campaign attracting over 250 people to have their pictures taken with a positive message to the young women of the world.
Arusha 2014 – 16 – 22march 2014
The International Training Institute on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) which was held in Arusha, Tanzania, brought together selected women and young women champions from the world to discuss, debate and redefine the World YWCA Global Agenda for Action on Securing Action on SRHR and HIV.
The ITI intended to review the work done by the World YWCA in the countries that have received funding through the Power to Change Fund and also on-going work funded by our partners the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, NORAD, ARROW, Christian Aid and EED.
The young women who attended the ITI learnt about the regional and global contexts of SRHR, the frameworks that exist to address these issues and the challenges and recommendations. The young women also were able to share best practices and information. Each region came up with key messages to share with their governments. The training was interactive, fun and very educational.
In attendance were religious eaders from the World Council of Churches and EHAIA.
Titilayo Kumilonje and Halliet from Malawi in Arusha
The training participants worked in groups, which discussed issues from different geographical areas including Asia Pacific, East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Great lakes region, Europe.
More than 800 global health professionals, policy makers, business leaders, advocates and youth leaders will gathered for the third Partners‘ Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, 30 June – 1 July.
The Partners‘ Forum was a pivotal moment to review progress, identify factors for success, and agree on commitments for action to help women, new-borns, children and adolescents survive and thrive. With deliberations underway for a post-2015 development agenda.
first large-scale involvement of young people to date. Out of the approximately 1000 participants in Johannesburg, nearly 10% were youth representatives under 30. The World YWCA was well represented with Mtisunge Kachingwe representing the YWCA of Malawi.
The young women spoke up for the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of young women; raising awareness on eliminating early, forced and child marriage; demonstrating inter-generational leadership with young women as facilitators and speakers; offering insight and key language for the Outcome Document; and building networks to confront gender discrimination.
Girls not Brides
Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of non-governmental organizations committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. To this end different
organizations in Malawi have been grouped to conduct programs in line with the work that Girls not Brides does.
Currently Malawi chapter is working on the assented bill (addresses legal age of marriage). We are currently lobbying for bill tabled on Parliament sitting. The organisation developed a petition which is due for presentation to relevant authorities
Through the Graca Michael trust a county survey was conducted in Malawi and with the report a workshop will be held to formulate a country strategy. Preparations are underway.
Preparations for international day of the Girl Child as well as 16 days of activism are underway
- Getting a timely response from people we would like to partner with
- Transportation, increase in the price of fuel thereby increasing our budget and lack of no vehicle for the YWCA.
- Teachers unwilling ness to participate in survey, they wanted financial compensation.FUTURE PLANS
The project is expected to go on into its second phase next year. Planned activities include
- Face to Face dialogue with Religious leaders on SRHR indicators at community and country level
- Establish partnerships as well as strengthening existing partnerships with FBOs and other CSO‘s that promote young women‘s SRH rights by the end of the second quarter to address the knowledge gap.
- Set up meetings with other NGO’s and find out ways in which we can work together Conduct outreach activities targeting girls aged 15-19
- Produce and distribute culturally appropriate IEC material with messages on SRHR, HIV/AIDS
- Trains Peer educators
- Awareness campaigns in the community
- Identify and create safe space
- introduce the idea of a safe space to participants, leaders and parents in the community.
- identify proper time to use the safe space
- Develop syllabus to teach girls in the 15-19 age group, apart from SRHR life skills and assets to improve their quality of life.
- Develop a referral network to ensure youth have access to health services