Malawi ranks 170 on the Global Inequality Index (UNDP Human Development Report 2016)
Francis Wallace (Programme Manager, Trócaire Malawi): "Trócaire has been in Malawi since the 1970s and today a major focus of our work is Women's Empowerment.
We've secured funding from the Irish government through Irish Aid and the Human Dignity Foundation. We work with local partner organisations who are from and based in the communities where we want to bring about change.
We engage with traditional and religious leaders who are invaluable change agents at community level. We engage them through a methodology called SASA! or SASA! Faith which really empowers them to protect the rights of women and girls in their communities."
Steven Ipham (Gender Equality Technical Adviser, Trócaire Malawi): "The SASA! Faith methodology primarily works on issue of power. We do acknowledge that gender equality and women’s empowerment cannot be achieved if we do not address issues of power, and power relations are at the core of the SASA! Faith methodology."
Mufti Shamuna Sosola (Chairperson, District Interfaith AIDS Committee - DIAC): "The programme has helped Christian and Muslim religious leaders to work together. We now tolerate each other more. It was very difficult previously, before the programme, for a sheikh to work with a pastor in the same fight to end violence against women and on issues related to HIV - it was very, very difficult.
It was very very difficult for chiefs to work with sheikhs and religious leaders. But since we started this Trócaire programme, there is a lot of tolerance amongst ourselves and we are working together as a team to combat this problem."
Malawi has one of the world's highest rates of child marriage, with half its girls married before the age of 18 (UNICEF 2016).
Golden Kang'oma (Programme Director, Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association - MIAA): "It would not have been possible if we only targeted one aspect - when we are looking at the structural issues that affect women and girls - issues of traditional, cultural and religious practices - these are structural things in nature and we need to target custodians of those practices."
Chief Kambwiri (Chief, Traditional Authority Kambwiri): "To address this problem, we sat together as a community and looked at the challenges women were facing and developed our own bylaws in order to address violence against women and girls, and now we are also looking at other challenges facing girls.
As a result of this work, we have rescued 85 girls from child marriages and they have gone back to school."
Steven Ipham (Gender Equality Technical Adviser, Trócaire Malawi): "Among other strategies we have male and female motivators who work with their peers in the communities. The males work with their male counterparts in order to ensure that they generate discussions on gender equality, because it is easier for males to talk to their peers. And the females do likewise to their female counterparts to ensure that we promote gender equality in a manner that is comprehensive and that suits both men and women in their communities."
National Statistical Office (NSO) Malawi and ICF (2017): 34% of women in Malawi have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
Katherine Kalula (Female Motivator, Chagunda Village): "People in my community have benefitted quite a lot because before, it was normal to victimise women at home. People would remain silent and sometimes people didn't even realise that this was violence against women. But, after our work as motivators people now understand about gender equality and the negative impact of violence against women and girls. So we have really managed to break the silence on gender based violence in our community because people are able to open up when they are victimised."
Happiness Thaundi (Secretary, Village Savings & Loans Group): "We also encourage one another to report when violence occurs, even when it happens to our neighbour. We encourage each other to go and report to the community groups that were established by MIAA, like the community action groups.
People can report to the chiefs, they can report to the religious leaders or they can report to the police."
By 2020 Trócaire will have reached 20,500 men and women directly with our work.
Golden Kang'oma (Programme Director, Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association - MIAA): "We are very very thankful to Trócaire for their technical and financial support that has enabled MIAA to achieve these things that we have been able to do within the shortest period of time and we know, with God's grace, we know with this support we can do more."
Francis Wallace (Programme Manager, Trócaire Malawi): "Our current women's empowerment programme will run until 2020 at which stage we will see a reduction in gender based violence, a reduction in child marriage, and an increase in girls staying and finishing school."
Catherine Kalula (Female Motivator, Chagunda Village): "What I like most about being involved as a female motivator is the knowledge and skill that I am gaining through this experience, because as I do this work, I've learned quite a lot."