I am a 2017 SAfAIDS Young People’s Leadership Academy (YPLA) mentee, currently working as a Project Officer with Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) in Mzimba, Malawi. As a young person, I am passionate about the empowerment of young people, particularly girls, to prevent gender-based violence (GBV). On completing the first YPLA training module, I was very motivated to create change in my community and country. I utilised the knowledge I had gained through the training, along with other resources, to develop a sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) training manual for community members.
The training manual was accepted by GENET and has since been adopted to influence and guide the organisation’s SGBV projects across Malawi. I never imagined I could be considered an authority in any area, but now I am regarded as one of the best in GBV work in my organisation, and the executive director has been very impressed with my work. I have since been entrusted with important roles, among them making a presentation on behalf of my manager during our project’s annual review to our partners, producing the organisational annual report and developing a training manual for male champions in advocacy and community mobilisation.
I would not have been able to lead the planning, organisation and implementation of the recently held campaign without the great leadership and organising skills I obtained from the SAfAIDS YPLA. The academy helped me to develop confidence and the skills to network with ‘big people’ and get them to work with me. The event was a success because I was able to demonstrate leadership and motivational skills”
My greatest accomplishment this year has been leading the implementation of the Combating Sexual Gender Based Violence Amongst Girls and Boys to Increase School Retention project, in Mzimba, funded by Comic Relief and Oxfam. I was responsible for organising a district campaign and we hosted the Minister of Education, Honourable Bright Msaka, the Director of Transport, Dr Mary Shaba, district education officials and female members of the Malawi Defence Force.
Malawi Minister of Education arrives at Enkondlweni Primary School in Mzimba District, as students dance and cheer to welcome him
A lot of organising was required for the event to be a success, demanding good leadership, communication and co-ordinating skills. The YPLA training prepared me for networking and communicating with ‘big shots’; I had several one-on-onone and group meetings with district officials. At community level, I had to pull together all community stakeholders to organise activities and hold meetings with traditional leaders, school heads, teachers, community development committees and other key stakeholders.
(Left) Malawi Minister of Education, Hon. Bright Msaka, addressing participants at the SGBV campaign at Enkondlweni Primary School. (Right) Director of Transport, Dr Shaba, encourages young people to stay in school and work hard.
Honourable Masaka applauded the SGBV project and the positive results it has yieldedand he and other key stakeholders spoke against SGBV among girls and boys. Dr Shaba and two female Defence Force members gave motivational speeches and encouraged young people to stay in school and work hard to attain brighter futures.
Other activities included recitals, traditional dances and exhibitions by young people involved in the SGBV project in Mzimba District. All the stakeholders pledged to take concrete action to protect young people, especially girls, from SGBV and to address incidents of SGBV locally and at national level.