Parent and Child Health Initiative (PACHI), Mzimba District Coordinator said local and faith leaders are the key individuals who can help create a congunsive environment for a girl in issues affecting their life such as fight against asexual gender based violence (SGBV) in the district.
Speaking in an interview on Friday in Traditional Authority Mtwalo, Mzimba District Coordinator, Mackson Mtambo said it takes collective efforts of a community to raise the girl hence the need to engage these community leaders, teachers and mother groups in the fight against SGBV.
“Initially we were not involving local leaders even the religious leaders. In the first phase we were sensitizing learners but their environment at home was not that good. Mainly, we want these children that before they come to school they should have a good environment at home.
“That is why we have involved local leaders and religious leaders to help us sensitize the general community so as to be aware of the child rights and gender rights,” Mtambo said.
He said if faith and local leaders are aware of the negative impacts of SGBVs, the girl will live in an environment where their citizens are able to respect rights of a child.
Apart from engaging faith leaders, school teachers and local leaders, Pachi through Spotlight program have made children who are the right holders to take part in the program by formulation of Ifeso clubs in schools where learners themselves will be discussing SGBV related issues.
“We are involving learners themselves by forming a learners’ clubs which is called Ifeso club. We want the learners themselves to discuss their issues of concern. We want them to learn how to discuss social accountability,” he added.
Mtambo said if the community, learners themselves, teachers and local leaders understand rights of a girl child can be able to exercise those rights giving a friendly environment to a girl child.
On his part, Mzimba North District Assistant Social Welfare Officer, Benjamin Gozarimo said the main objective of Spotlight program is to enhance congunsive environment for the children especially the girl child.
“We want to help community based structures as well as all stakeholders that they should hold hands so that we all together make our communities protective to our children,” said Gozarimo.
He said the fight against SGBV needs multi-sectorial approach saying it can be easily defeated once different individuals are used in a community.
“It is a collaborative service delivery approach that can only curb or control gender based violence. You can agree with me that in churches, some faith leaders fail to raise awareness on effects of gender based violence hence this forum has contributed a lot because church leaders were also present during deliberations,” he added.
Commenting on the matter, Chankhanga Catholic Church chairperson in Engucwini, Simeon Matchere representing faith leaders said the message Pachi through Spotlight brought was an eye opener to faith leaders present.
“Faith leaders live with many people and when we preach the message to the congregants, it is very easy for them to believe so, whatever we have discussed here will produce good results in the villages,” Matchere said.
He said the concept of attitude has made girls in villages to suffer most because of how people in the community see a girl child as they see her as a source of income.
“I was touched with the concept of attitude. It is indeed true that the attitude of other people in the villages where churches belong have a negative perception towards a girl child for example when they see a girl they see cows. Many people use a girl child as a source of money,” he added.
Village headman Thomas Quoto in Traditional Authority (TA) Mtwalo said very few people are aware that children have rights and need to protect.
“I used to receive reports about gender based violence against girls in my area. Not all people are aware that children are right holders and need to be protected. The coming in of Spotlight program has opened up our mind therefore when we go home we will be able to share the same message to members of community on the need to protect rights of a child,” Quoto said.
He said he will make sure that he helps those who do not understand the rights of children and also their responsibility as parents to make sure that children are protected.
Spotlight project is founded by European Union (EU).
Credits: Blessings Kaunda – MANA