Members of Tikondane Girls Club who hail from the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Mkumba in Mchinji district were flooded with euphoria as each walked home with more cash at the end of their Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) operating cycle.
A total of seven girls walked home with MK 28,370 each while others got varying satisfactory amounts. The club has 20 members and all of them are adolescent girls.
The club was established by YONECO as a way of reducing the risk of child marriage among girls who are from needy families. A number of studies have pinpointed poverty as one of the factors that fuel child marriages in low income countries like Malawi.
Thus, YONECO, through ‘Marriage No Childs Play Project’ which is being funded by Simavi, facilitated the establishment of VSLA groups for the girls as a way of empowering them economically. Through their savings, the girls were able to access soft loans which enabled them to invest and increase their shares. The initiative has aided the girls to pay tuition fees, buy sanitary pads, clothes, text books and other basic necessities.
“The group has really given us reasons to remain in school and evade child marriage as we have been able to support ourselves. Marriage is no longer an option as we do not need husbands to support us,” explained one of the group members – Twamie Zondola.
YONECO is implementing ‘Marriage No Childs Project’ under the banner of More than Brides Alliance which is a consortium of various organizations which are working tirelessly to contribute towards ending child marriage in Malawi. Other members of the network are Save the Children, GENET and Population Council. Implementation of the project commenced in 2016 and it will phase out in December this year.