Make Girls Matter Again!

Fellows: Francis Folley and Lawrence Zuze

Grant Year: 2019

Location: TA Nchilemwera, Malawi

Organization: Youth Coalition for the Consolidation of Democracy (YCD) and Mapanga Community Development Organization (MACDEVO)

Project title: Make Girls Matter Again!

Project summary: In June 2018, the Traditional Authority in Nchilemwera reported that five out of ten girls that go to initiation camps before the age of sixteen get married before their eighteenth birthday in Nchilemwera. Initiation ceremonies that target girls below the age of sixteen are a major contributing factor to the high rates of child marriage in Nchilamwera and Changata. During the initiation ceremonies, girls are exposed to an informal sexual curriculum at a very young age, when they may not understand the content or how to make use of it responsibly. Practices like kusasa fumbi, a forced sexual initiation, are still practiced despite policies banning them. In addition, without a standardized curriculum to be used by each of the initiation counselors, the content that the girls are exposed to during the initiation camps is often not age appropriate and does not include information on girls’ Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and human rights.

 To bring an end to harmful traditional practices and to improve the rights of girls, YCD and MACDEVO will advocate for the creation of the standardized and age appropriate initiation camp curriculum in TA Nchilemwera that will focus on girls’ SRHR and women’s rights for girls age 16 and older. They will work closely with girls, village chiefs, initiation camp counselors, and other stakeholders from TA Nchilemwera, as well as ENGAGE organizations Reflecting Foundation and FORUD, who are working to create an initiation camp curriculum for TA Changata. The implementation of new, age-appropriate and standardized curriculum will improve the lives of thousands of girls in TA Nchilemwera.