Thursday, 29 May 2014

Gender Equality and Women Empowerment: Are we Making Progress?

For so many decades, much has been said that the world needs and should promote gender equality. However, it seems not much progress has made on this in many societies. Men and women should have equal opportunities and we should all remember that no sex is inferior to another.

Gender inequality has led to vulnerability as well as high illiteracy levels among girls and women and it has also stagnated economic development. Women are as capable as men and there is no point in frustrating their efforts to participate fully in the development of their communities.

For instance, in the just ended tripartite elections in Malawi, the 50-50 Gender Campaign has not yielded the expected outcomes. According to unofficial results that were being announced, women who contested have not done well in the election. This is mainly attributed to the patriarchal nature of most communities whereby people do not believe that women are capable of handling the mantle.It is heartrending to note that Malawi will, on 6th July 2014, mark 50 years of independence but women are not independent and they are raging behind their male counterparts.

As earlier stated, gender equality and women empowerment agenda has been talked about for so many decades. The question is; are we really making progress towards achieving it? Let us move the talk to real empowerment of women and girls. It is also the duty of governments, Civil Society Organisations and all individuals to work tirelessly in promoting gender equality.                                        

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Implementation of National Youth Policy and SRH & R in Malawi

Since the National Youth Policy of Malawi (2013) was gazetted, not much has been done on the ground in terms of implementation of the provisions that are enshrined in the policy. Among them, the provision of Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) is one of the key priority areas in the newly launched National Youth Policy. However, not much is being done on the ground to fulfill this.

Public health centres and hospitals are required to have youth friendly health corners where young people should go and freely access services. Most adolescents in Malawi face sexual and reproductive health problems simply because they were, at a certain point in time, not provided with the necessary services. 

Lack of SRH information services in general has resulted into an increase of the total number of young boys and girls who have been faced with early pregnancies, STIs including HIV/ AIDS and other SRH problems. Malawi is also faced by the problem of child marriages and this is mainly a consequence of the scarcity of SRH and R information and services.

Most young people drop out of school because of pregnancy. These are scenarios whereby a boy impregnates a girl and the option they choose is to drop out of school get some jobs to support the child who is usually followed by other siblings. This is exactly what constantly compromises the health of the girl and the children she bears.

Furthermore, some girls find themselves marrying an older man because they were forced to by their parents. Such scenarios are avoidable only when the girls know their sexual reproductive health rights and the consequences of early pregnancies.

Now that Malawi has a strong legal framework that is capable of protecting and enhancing sexual reproductive health and rights of all the youth, there is need to implement and make sure that  the laws and policies are really achieving their intended purposes.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Problems that Malawians Share are Greater than the Things that Divide them

In a few days to come, official results for the just ended elections will be out and there is need to maintain our peace. An election is somehow closely related to a competition in the sense that after the electorates have cast their ballots, there usually emerges a victor. It is always heartrending when you or your candidate loses an election but it is understandable since every one cannot be a winner and we all should know and acknowledge this fact.

 The beauty of such a democratic election like the Tripartite Election (TPE) that Malawi recently had is that the majority carries the day. Once the official results are out, let those that vied and won positions in the just ended elections lead and fulfill the promises they made to the youth, women and children of this country.

 In delivery of what they were voted for, everyone stands an equal chance of benefiting from their services irrespective of whether you voted for or against them. I sincerely believe that this fact gives each one of us a reason to continuously take part and engage them so as to make sure that our concerns and societal challenges are being addressed in a cordial and agreeable manner possible.

Our democracy is no longer an infant; let us manage the results of the just ended election in a mature manner as good citizens of the ever peaceful Malawi nation. Nobody in the world has ever benefited from causing havoc and to think along such lines is a gross enigma and such mindsets are responsible for failure of economically promising states and individuals. There is no reason to fight against each other simply because of mere differences in political party affiliations. Malawians suffer from poverty, hunger, unemployment etc and our concerns really revolve around these matters and not just mere disparities in ethnicity, religion or political affiliations. The problems we share are far much greater than the things that divide us.

All the frontrunners in the just ended election promised us a lot once they ascend to power. Now they got our votes and what remains is for us to take them to task if they are failing to deliver. Let the election guide us as we reflect on the areas we did a good job and if there are other areas our community should work on in terms of handling the next elections.

The youth should remember that they are nobody’s toy soldiers and every political leader should also bear in mind that the youth have a lot to benefit in a violent free nation like ours. The youth need to go to school, venture into businesses and explore other avenues all of which are not possible in a country where there is mayhem in its backyard.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

MAY 17th - Lets Commemorate the International Child Helpline Day

INTERNATIONAL CHILD HELPLINE DAY - May 17, was declared and dedicated to celebrating the work of child helplines all over the world by Child Helpline International.  International Child Helpline Day is a special day whereby child helplines all over the world hold various activities and celebrations to highlight their work and achievements. This year's theme is ''The Right to be Heard!”

In commemorating this day, I would like to express my heart felt sentiments of pity to the Nigerian girls who were abducted at school. Every day, I think about them and I feel a certain sense of deep sorrow and sadness. Where ever these girls are, their relatives are feeling the void gaps that have been created by such an act of dehumanization in its worst form. This act cannot and should not, in anyway, be excused in this modern era we are living in. It goes without overemphasizing the fact that a lot of the aforementioned girls’  human rights have been infringed up on  by this single act of dehumanization.

On April 14, I was  very shocked 234 school girls between the ages of 12 and 18 were abducted from a Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok in Northern Nigeria by an Islamist armed group. There are so many better ways of making political statements or raising your voice to be heard and abducting young and innocent girls is not among them.

It's been a month since the Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by an armed group that has terrorized northeastern Nigeria. There have been reports that there are some advances by the armed group towards sexually exploiting the young girls and this as well is unthinkable and sickening. These children have the right to education and this is in accordance to the constitution of Nigeria and the UN CRC Article 28 which clearly articulates that Children have the right to an education. As the right to education is being promoted, there are; conversely, some adult groups that are abducting the children from their schools in Nigeria. The abduction could also prevent parents from sending their girls to school. We can't let that happen. Education is a human right, and all girls in Chibok or elsewhere in the world are entitled to education and they should pursue it, free from violence.

Abducted girls
I humbly ask the Nigerian authorities to find a workable means of securing the release of the girls and to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Article 35 of the CRC clearly stipulates that; Governments should make sure that children are not abducted or sold and article 32 of the same document which stipulates that; Governments should protect children from work that is dangerous or that might harm their health or education.

I also urge the Nigerian government and all countries to ensure that all children are able to access their right to education in safety. All organizations concerned with children should work towards what is best for each child. There is need to establish more helpline service centres in the countries where helplines do not exist. Children need to be connected and their concerns heard.

YONECO is an organization that manages the Tithandizane National helpline in Malawi .A lot of children have received help and the necessary listening ear through the Tithandizane National Helpline. Furthermore, YONECO broadcasts a lot of radio adverts and the organisation conducts public awareness campaigns in order to make sure that children and all peace loving citizens of Malawi know where to report whenever a child has been abused.

 YONECO commemorates this day by going through the number of cases which the organisation has been able provide the necessary referals and assistance to abused children. YONECO ensures that help for children is just a phone call away and at no cost!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Celebrating the International Year of the Family (IYF) 
15TH May 2014  

Parenting in Africa Network (PAN) is a network of member organisations with a focus on promoting skillful parenting in Africa. PAN’s is drawn from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) to advocate for the rights of children by focusing on specific issues that affect African families.
In marking the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family (IYF), Parenting in Africa Network (PAN) shall host a regional experts’ meeting on 13th -14th in Nairobi, Kenya.
What parents should know is that nobody is perfect and you'll likely make some mistakes, both big and small, as you raise your child. This is just a normal part of parenting and it is not likely to have lasting effects on your kid, as long as you work hard not to repeat the mistakes. However, consistently poor parenting can have negative consequences during childhood and beyond. It is very imperative to understand such things and it helps you to make the best decisions you can for your child.

Trust is one other important element which parent should ensure that a child trusts.  If you promise to take your child to the mall to pick out a new dress for the upcoming dance, but don't follow through, she might get the idea that she can't trust you to do what you say you're going to do. If you repeatedly tell your child that he/she can come to you and talk about anything, but then you explode in anger when she reveals something you don't want to hear, the child probably won't feel like she can trust you next time something big happens. This lack of trust could mean your child is doing things on her own and with friends that you don't know about.

Furthermore, having a poor parent might make a child feel unloved and abandoned, whether you truly feel that way or not. Lack of support from parents and harsh or negative parenting strategies might increase the risk of depression in children. Not every child who gets depressed has bad parents, but not having a parent to turn to during the childhood years can result in mood disorders as a child gets older. If you feel that your child is depressed, see a mental health professional to determine the cause so you can address it.

However, others may continue the cycle of making poor parenting decisions when they have children of their own as it was noted the Journal of Family Health Care. Many parents do the things their parents did to them when they were growing up because that is all they know. Malawi, YONECO is a member of PAN and it has been engaged in several parenting activities whereby trained volunteers facilitate and discuss issues that affect parenthood, and the welfare of children at community level.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

ICT Era and the prevention of STIs and unwanted pregnancies Among the Youth

In most developing countries it has been noted that the youth do not have an easy access to Information and Communication Technologies. However, it is an undeniable fact that ICT can bring change to the society.The youth, especially those who live in remote areas face a lot of problems due to lack of information.Such young people are being infected with HIV and STI’s; they are getting unwanted pregnancies since they lack information on such issues. All in all they need to know about their sexual and reproductive health issues.It is very heartrending to note that many young people and adults who live in rural areas are computer illiterate and a very few own cellphones.The greatest advantage of ICT tools is that they can even reach out to the remotest areas of a country.With this advantage, the tools can be used to create information center that should serve the purpose of HIV/AIDS infections among the rural youth. ICT is capable of improving access to information and raising awareness levels of people. Furthermore, modern day communication technologies are also proficient in promoting access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and they are very reliable when it comes to youth friendliness in disseminating SRH messages and information.YONECO has a number of resource centers where the youth go to access information ranging from SRH to human rights and democracy. It is there very imperative for other NGOs and the government to consider the establishment of such centers as well.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Why Wait?

A friend of mine once told me that a lot of young people are caught off guard and they shriek and shiver whenever they see a poster that reads ‘Why Wait’. What is the harm in those two words? I was told that this makes them gasp like fish in a poisoned pond.  Some even vow that they will, for the rest of their lives, never look or glance let alone read the words again even at gun point.

However, the words are not offensive any way. In fact, the words only ask a fundamental question that needs an honest response - not in public but in young people's  individual minds. I ask the friend why that is so and his reason was very simple- Just like in Lawi’s song, ‘they are in a hurry’.

Why should the youth wait brings me to think and ponder deeply on this issue and I came up with a lot of reasons why the youth should wait. I looked beyond the horizon of my thoughts and came up with some critical elements in young people’s lives. Then I critically examined the things that make the youth to be in a hurry.

Believe me, among the notable issues I realised that the youth are always in a hurry to start having sex no matter how young they are. They feel it is a sign of valor and heroism to have multiple sex partners. They are always in a hurry, they feel a condom is just a derailing factor as such they indulge in unprotected sex,  they are always in a hurry  so much that they have no time to go for HIV Testing let alone seeking any SRH service or information. They do things without information.

For your sake, I will look at a few reasons why you should wait. Firstly, you have one life! Secondly, you haven’t seen anything yet, there are so many good things out there and remember- ‘life begins at 40!’ There will come a time when the world will lean on your shoulders! You are the only hope for the future of this generation and without you there is no tomorrow! The list is endless and may it keep on flowing in the minds of all young people…You have so many reasons that should make you wait