Community leaders from the area of Traditional Authority Nankumba in Mangochi district have commended young people in the area for their efforts in signaling rights violations and expressing their dissatisfaction with some restrictive social norms that fuel various Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) challenges they face through dialogue.
Speaking after a youth-led community awareness campaigns on young people’s SRHR, Group Village Head (GVH) Kela stated that he was very happy to hear young people boldly stating various issues that affect them. The GVH stated that he is aware that various sexual reproductive health challenges which young people face have an impact on the development of a society. Thus, GVH Kela stated that he will do his best, in his capacity as a traditional leader, to ensure that the challenges which young people raised are properly addressed.
“Young people are leaders who will succeed the current crop of leaders we see today. However, they will not be able to so unless we deal with the sexual reproductive health problems they are facing today”, said GVH Kela.
Among other things, young people indicated that some older community members are proponents of harmful cultural practices and social norms that fuel the spread of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among the youth, increasing incidences of unintended teen pregnancies, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and child marriages.
In his remarks, the Executive Director for YONECO, MacBain Mkandawire, stated that an assessment which his organization made earlier in 2016 indicated that the socioeconomic development of young people in the area is being negatively affected by various SRHR Challenges that required a serious attention. Mkandawire further stated that this is why the organization chose Nankumba to as one of the impact areas of Get Up Speak Out (GUSO) Programme.
GUSO is aimed at ensuring that all young people, especially girls and young women, are empowered to realize their SRHR in societies that are positive towards young people’s sexuality. As such, the organization established Youth Radio Listening Clubs, trained young people in community mobilization, as well as Theatre for Development so that young people should have various the skills and channels for them to signal violations and increasingly voice their rights. The activity was graced by the presence of Loan Liem from Netherlands who is a Senior Programmes Manager for Simavi as well as GUSO focal contact person for Malawi.
GUSO Programme is being implemented in Chikwawa and Mangochi by a consortium of 6 partners who formed the Malawi SRHR Alliance and the members are; YONECO, CYECE, CHRR, CAVWOC, COWLHA, and FPAM.