To mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Trócaire has teamed up with other Irish development agencies in Malawi to produce an exhibition that tell the stories of 16 remarkable women.
The exhibition looks at how these women and their communities are addressing gender-based violence – its causes and its effects.
The images and stories were first displayed to commemorate the visit of the President of the Republic of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins to Malawi earlier in November 2014.
Top left to bottom right: Edrina Kenamu (28), Rose Simawo (32), Olive Gunyais (15), Veronica Obed (43), Mafulesi Matengambiri (62), Anonymous (13), Katrina Shako, Lucia Kanyoza, Malita Chikhosi (41), Martha Hiwa, Nellie Mhango (61), Ezinta Mzoze, Grace Petros (56), Ruth Julius (38), Duniya Mike (25), Duniya M’bwana. All photos by: Chipiliro Khonje
Gender inequality is pervasive around the world. In Malawi, it is rooted in strong traditional and cultural factors that both cause and enforce gender disparities.
Culturally it is the norm for women to be submissive and defer to men in most spheres of life. As a result, women and girls face challenges in accessing education and training, information, legal rights, healthcare, economic resources, livelihood options, and being in positions of decision-making.
Consequently, their vulnerability to violence in its many forms – the impact of climate change, food insecurity and HIV infection – is increased.
In this exhibition we meet girls and women from all over Malawi and learn ways in which they have been affected by these issues simply because they are female. These women and girls have bravely shared their life stories of humility, courage, perseverance and strength.
These experiences are representative of the untold stories of millions of women and girls globally. We hope by taking the time to read these stories you will demonstrate your solidarity with women and girls around the world who struggle on a daily basis to live lives free from hunger and illness, free from abuse and fear – for both themselves and their children.
Edrina Kenamu, is 28, and chief of Kandusiwa Village, in Salima District. She has three children, all girls, and is educated to primary school level. People in her village respect and like her and it’s easy to understand why. Her smile is contagious and she speaks with the confidence of a leader.
Edina married at 19 but her relationship was not harmonious. “When I married my husband was going out every day. I knew he was cheating on me. I was scared because our family was at risk of HIV infection. We stopped having sex. I felt bad and I felt unloved. I wondered if I should leave, I almost started an affair with another man.”
Her husband explains their violent home life. “I was beating her and I believed I had that right because I am a man. I was wrong. She took the beatings but in turn beat our children, perhaps she had learned this from me.”
After nine years of this, things changed dramatically when Edrina’s husband joined MIAA and Trócaire Tiyeni Tisinthe program in Salima. Edina says “It was the best thing that happened to me, to us. My husband stopped going out, and staying away and he started to help me at our home. I never thought that was possible. I am living in a dream. We sit together and we discuss everything, even sex. We trust each other now. There is no more violence in our home and we teach our children they too must live this way.”