By Franco Mwachande Jnr.
An educational tour by Girl Empowerment and Mentorship (GEM) to Chibanzi Secondary school in Dowa has revealed that social injustices and gender imbalances are major demotivating factors leading to poor performance of female students at the institution.
The tour, which aimed at motivating and equipping knowledge to female learners to understand their sexual reproductive health issues, took place at the said institution a couple of days ago.
Among others, the interaction has also revealed that there are high levels of spirals of silence amongst girl-students once they have been sexually and emotionally harassed. As a result, most of the said victims do suffer in silence.
According to GEM’s Chief Executive Officer, Yamiko Kawale, there is a lot of work to be done to narrow down the gender gaps currently existing at the institution and its catchment area.
“It was evident from discussions that there is a lot of work to do in order to fill the gap that exists between these two sexes when it comes to respecting each’s other feelings and sexuality.” She explained.
Kawale furthers noted that most girl students choose to suffer in silence either because of delayed justice, or are afraid of being ridiculed by the society.
“Often times, girls are afraid to report when their rights are violated for fear of being heard and believed or when they report any form of violation to those in authorities, justice is delayed and sometimes no result at all,” she revealed.
It is with such a background that GEM organized this seminar with an aim of also sensitizing the boy-students understand what females undergo, biologically and psychologically.
Kawale revealed that GEM incorporates male students in its programmes at they too could be used as agents of change.
“As GEM, we believe that if boys and men understand the emotions, feelings and personal development that girls go through, then society would be able to close the gap.” Said she.
“Most of our program sessions incorporate with boys so that they should be equipped (too) with proper information and consequences of their actions to girls, like teach them some skills, their rights and responsibilities in empowering girls in their community.” Explained she.
The seminar saw over 120 students being equipped with life changing skills for their livelihood. One of the participants, Form two female student at the school, Funny Masawo said the training had been an eye opener.
“We have been motivated by people who come because they are our role models, they have told us a lot about ourselves like self-hygiene when we reach puberty and evils of getting married at tender ages,” she said.
In his remarks, Chibanzi CDSS Head teacher Jenkey Banda hailed the development saying it has come in time and appeal to other organizations to follow suit.
“The project itself is impressive, our students more especially girls have fully been equipped and motivated mentally. Malawi could be a better place if more organizations followed the path of GEM,” pleaded he.