By Atupele Dzabala
Amongst our many partners, the YWCA of Malawi is proud to work with the World Council of Churches (WCC), and in line with this work,in August 2015, we attended the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy (EHAI) Regional review workshop. The objectives of the workshop were as follows:
- To review what we have done as the World Council of Churches participants.
- To look back at what we have done through our respective organisations.
- To share our experiences
- What worked well for our organisations.
- How did these exposure meetings equip you with knowledge and skills to work further in our organisation.
Achievements from Malawi
Our representative Atupele Milanzi spoke on the work YWCA is doing and our achievements;
- Most of our work is done at grassroots level and currently, we have a program running in 3 villages in Mulanje were we are training peer educators to help us with the ground work in dealing with issues to do with SRHR.
- We have a good working relationship with the Minister of Gender who has committed to helping the YWCA in advancing its agendas.
- Soon after the Malawi meeting, we organised a workshop with religious and community leaders to address faith and cultural barriers to young women accessing SRHR services and the gathering were very receptive to the message we shared with them and they helping us with our work.
- We are continuing with our work in ending child marriage.
Challenges from Malawi
The work the YWCA of Malawi does is not without its challenges…
- Lacked technical understanding of what HIV and SRHR especially from religious leaders and traditional leaders.
- Religious leaders unsure how they can use pulpit to deliver messages some afraid.
- Funding, we would be able to do more and take our projects to others villages if we had more funding.
- Engage the church umbrella bodies in Malawi council of churches to run a course on Transformative Masculinities and Femininities in the context of sexual reproductive health and rights.
- Influence curriculum review of their respective seminaries and colleges.
- Engage liberal theologians in advocacy work and these theologians should be used to interpret the Bible in an inclusive/contextual way without sticking to specific church traditions.
- Need to collaborate and coordinate all work done on gender through NGO: Gender Coordination Network to bring together all stake holders and learn from one another and map a way forward on how these NGO’s can work together.