Empowering AGYW economically
There is a lot of remarkable artisanship hidden among young women which can only come to light when they are given a chance to display it. Such talent has been identified among Chisomo Young Women Club from GVH Mdala, Traditional Authority (TA) Chilipa in Mangochi district.
The club comprises36 members of ages between 18 and 24 who came together under the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGWY) Project that ActionAid Malawi is implementing in seven TAs of Mangochidistrict through World Vision Malawi, with support from the Global Fund.
The young women of Chisomo Club have ventured into production of various artisanal works which society mostly considers only men are capable of producing them.
“We make various handworks such as wooden motors and pestles,wooden dolls, wooded cooking sticks, earthen pots, mats and brooms, among other things, which we sell and earn money, explained Memory Dzuwa, the Club’s Peer Educator.
The AGYW Project aims at reducing HIV incidences amongst adolescent girls and young women aged 10-24. The module facilitates establishment of in-school and out-of-school girls’ clubs where different key interventions are implemented targeting increased awareness of AGYW in HIV and AIDS, reduced school drop-out rate,reduced incidences of gender-based violence (GBV), and also economic empowerment activities.
According to the ActionAid Malawi AGYW Programme Coordinator, Gladson Mopiwa, under economic empowerment, out-of-school girls are enlightened on how they can save and utilize the little money they earn from small-scale businesses which they are encouraged to establish. The aim is to empower the girls economically so that they do not engage in transactional sex, thereby preventing them from contracting or spreading HIV.
On the other hand, the project encourages the club members to reach out to their peers with the information they learn from the club, and to help the needy within their community whether in kind or materially according to their capacity.
Chisomo Club members are similarly using the proceeds from their artworks and other resources to fulfill the objectives of the project.
“Apart from buying our individual and group’s basic needs, we use part of the money to support the education of needy learners, the elderly, and those who are chronically illin our community,” explained the club’s Peer Educator, who also said theclub generates income through crops,such as maize and groundnuts, that they grow as a group.
Memory said they taught each other on how to manage their time for doing household chores, groups artistic work, farming and sessions where peer educators lead in HIV and GBV sessions among other topics. Through the information they share in the club, Memory said many girls have gone for HIV testing and know their statuses.
“We no longer have time to move around aimlessly because apart from the group activities, we also have individual businesses to run. This prevents us from engaging in other social activities that would expose us to HIV despite earning a little something for our daily basic needs,” she continued.
Chisomo Young Women Club started in 2016. By March 2020, some of the members had managed to construct houses with iron sheets, some have established reliable businesses, whilst some of the members have gone back to school after receiving counsel.
With the help of Mother Group members, the club has also encouraged many children that dropped out of school to go back. As Memory puts it, every member of the club knows her HIV status and encourages their peers and relatives to go for HIV testing.
The Young Women’s entrepreneurial activities haven’t gone unnoticed by their GVH Mdala who says he stands tall and proud of the Club.
“I am very proud of what these young women are doing and the impact of their activities on the lives of people in my area. I’m really grateful to World Vision for bringing these women together and for the trainings it provides to them,” she said.
ActionAid Malawi through the Joint TB/HIV Global Fund Programme is implementing the AGYW Project in five districts of Lilongwe through Plan International, Mulanje through Christian Aid, Thyolo through Dignitas International, Chikwawa through Norwegian Church Aid and Mangochi through World Vision Malawi.