"Don't Leave Us Boys Out of GBV Prevention Training"
Some boys enrolled in Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa's Empowerment Transformation Training-ETT have urged organisations not to exclude boys from youth empowerment and GBV prevention programmes.
Malawi: Some boys enrolled in Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa's Empowerment Transformation Training-ETT have urged organisations not to exclude boys from youth empowerment and GBV prevention programmes.
This, the boys argue, will contribute to the creation of a society in which boys grow up to be gentlemen by refusing to participate in gender-based violence and working to end it.
The ETT programme, which began ten years ago, was designed to prevent and reduce incidents of gender-based violence, with a particular focus on sexual violence, by teaching girls self-defense and boys self-control.
In Lilongwe, the Empowerment Transformation Training is being implemented at Ngongonda Primary School, where boys and girls learn to respect and protect one another, as well as to prevent and report any form of violence.
During a media visit to the school on Thursday, one of the boys, 15-year-old Gerald Malekwa (standard 8), expressed his delight that for the first time, an interactive programme empowering boys in life skills is available.
'I would encourage organisations and institutions to provide such training to boys because it teaches us not to engage in sexual relationships because we now see the girls as our sisters,' Gerald said.
He went on to say that as a result of the empowerment programme, he has learned and now understands that women and girls deserve respect, not abuse.
'Now that we've been through this training, we know that as we get older, we'll be able to manage relationships better and be better men to our women and others around us,' Gerald, a Std 8 student, explained.
Headmaster Harry Makoka of Ngongonda Primary School also praises the programme, saying it has helped to increase attendance among girls who used to face various forms of abuse at home, on the way to school, and on school grounds.
'Most girls used to face various forms of abuse in their homes and even at school, but since the training began, many girls now know how to protect themselves,' revealed the Headteacher.
'Boys also know how to protect girls and see them as sisters rather than prey.' Boys' participation is critical because they are not only trained to protect girls but also to look out for various forms of abuse that they themselves face in their homes.’
The Empowerment Transformation Training, according to Simang'aliso Domoya, Programs Manager for Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa, is a GBV prevention initiative for both boys and girls.
'For the boys, the goal is to support them in adopting positive gender norms, changing their mindset towards women and girls; respecting women and girls and being able to seek consent for sex; being able to make informed decisions, and teaching them to grow up into gentlemen with respect for others,' Domoya explained.
She stated that there has been a positive response since the school's training began in July 2021.
'Boys love the programme because most of them are surprised to be involved because many programmes are only for girls.' Boys are thrilled that there is this programme for them because it is both interactive and challenging. This programme was created to train boys and girls before an act of sexual violence occurs.' We want to see a society free of violence, where girls can defend themselves, where boys are gentle with girls and women, and where they seek consent when they need anything,' Domoya said.
In partnership with World Relief, the empowerment programme has reached over 150, 000 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14 in Lilongwe, Salima, Dedza, Blantyre, Mangochi, Machinga, and Kasungu.