In delivering its programmes, RISE is working with and building the capacities of Community Based Organizations-CBOs in Malawi. Our entry point to communities is the already established community structures that already own the initiative. RISE main role is to come in with capacity building, technical support and continues relationship building in effective human rights education and promotion strategies.
HUMAN RIGHTS FOR THE GIRL CHILD
The human rights problem
Despite having a progressive constitution and Malawi being a signatory to international human rights protection instruments like the CRC and the CEDAW; the existence of child rights abuses continue to manifest themselves in different forms that include child marriages. Child marriages and other human rights violations are some of the barriers preventing adolescent girls in Malawi from unleashing their potential. The existence and problem of child and forced marriages are still accepted in Malawi society. In Malawi child marriages are triggering and perpetuating a vicious cycle of gross human rights denial and violations including poverty, disease, disadvantage, despair and frustration. Fifty percent of girls in Malawi become mothers before the age 18-many before their rights to education are fulfilled and before their bodies have fully matured-which puts them at higher risk for maternal and infant mortality. In fact, the Ministry of Health reports and confirms that the leading causes of death among girls ages 15-19 is medical complications due to early pregnancies. Girls between 10 and 14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or child birth than women aged 20-24 sadly the majority of these deaths take place within marriages. In our villages, child brides are also at higher risk of contracting HIV as their husbands at times older men with more sexual experience. They are more vulnerable to sexual and domestic violence at their hand of their husbands-and are more gullible and likely to think that it's okay when they become victims of abuse.
What can happen if the rights of girl children are promoted and protected?
If we can createhuman rights based culture in Malawi; girls and young women could be the most powerful people in our society. If they can be reached early enough by these project interventions, they can accelerate our economy, arrest major health issues and break cycles of poverty. At RISE, we do strongly believe that if these girls can get a chance to have her rights and human dignity respected, given a chance to stay in school, remain healthy, and gain skills; they will be able to assert themselves, make informed decisions and choices regarding their loves; marry later, have fewer and healthy children and earn an income that they would invest back in their families and communities. When they can grow into women and become educated mothers, economic actors and ambitious entrepreneurs or prepared employees they would break the vicious cycle of poverty.
The Specific Interventions
RISE Malawi is working on this colossal human rights problem under this programme from three perspectives name:
Sexual Reproductive Health Rights advocacy and empowerment
RISE is building the capacities and inner asserts through direct engagement with the girl children and young women. Through training, capacity building, advocacy and continuous dialogue and mentoring, our programmes are directly empowering the girl children know that they have rights and be equipped with the knowledge and skills to advocacy for their rights. RISE interventions are also directly providing human rights education to girls, families and communities so that we create conducive environments where the rights of girls and young women and all children are both known and promoted. Through community based structures that have been empowered like the Mother Groups, our interventions are providing immediate counseling at the community level for the girls whose rights have been violated and also provide referrals for appropriate further psychosocial and legal remedy support.
Community human rights Support initiatives
RISE is also directly engaging with community level stakeholders and role players through capacity building and collaboration. RISE recognizes the meaningful roles which Community leaders especially chiefs, religious leaders and others can play in ending some harmful cultural practices that promote the human rights violations against women and girls in our society. RISE is also ensuring that there is effective youth active and meaningful participation in all its programming and that all interventions are designed and implemented in the best interest of the child based on the CRC. Young people are directly involved and empowered through community youth led structures like the Girls Clubs, Auntie Stella Clubs and Youth Clubs. these structures, young people are empowered in life skills, advocacy and human rights education participatory methodologies.
The RISE project works with girls who have never been in school or dropped out of Primary school aged 10-15 years. These girls are Illiterate, burdened by domestic work by their parents and guardians compared to boys. Some of these girls are orphaned girls who are heads of their households and have never accessed an education before. These girls were further marginalized because of conservative gender norms that encourage girls to dropout after primary to marry, not having access to a secondary school nearby and high rates of poverty that force girls to work. Research shows that currently only 22% of girls complete primary school, very few going on to secondary education (Dept of Education, 2014). According to Save the Children's report "State of The World's Mothers". Malawi's completion rate for girls to grade five remains significantly low. Gender and educational norms, poverty and poor sexual and reproductive health are significant barriers to girls retention, achievement and learning in primary schools in Malawi. Traditional gender norms mean there is increased pressure on girls to remain at home, rather than attend school. Where there are limited resources, parents prefer to invest in the education of their sons. Within our recent baseline study, 25% of families said that gender played a role in their decision on whether to send a child to school and 32% said it made more sense to send a boy as they are more likely to use their education. Poor quality teaching in primary schools concerning sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) due to teachers feeling uncomfortable to address issues results in poor SRHR for girls. Additionally lack of a safe learning environment for female students who have been open to incidents of sexual abuse from male peers and teachers increases girls likelihood of not attending school (Nsanje Baseline Report, 2012). Finally there is lack of attention to the SRH needs of girls in general, for example the provision of inadequate sanitation facilities during menstruation and a lack of support for pregnant or new mothers, is also a contributing factor to girls low attendance, retention and achievement at school. .
The specific girls targeted by this project have been marginalized educationally and left behind compared to other adolescent girls in their context because of the following further specific factors:
Due to HIV/AIDS, some girls became carers to sick parents and siblings.
They are either orphans or living in very poor households and communities where social and cultural reasons made it difficult for them to be enrolled in school.
Lack of school facilities and proper facilities within the rural geographical areas they live in and Lack of valuing of girls education and hence no support for them to enroll in school
lack of support from families due to poverty or prioritization of educational support for boys over girls.
cultural practices that encourage and perpetuates negative attitudes against girls education and viewing them as failures only fit for marriages; and lack of family support and encouragement through female role models for them to enroll in school.
How the project is changing Lives for Marginilised Girls
Over the past 4 years the project has changed lives of over 12,000 marginilsed girls, as it is improving girls literacy, numeracy and other life skills .The project empowers adolecent girls and tackles hatrmful social and gender norms that contribute to girls being out of school. Through Life skills empowerment girls have achieved and improved quality of their family lives as they have become active participants in decision making relating to their family or community. The project also addresses the gender, poverty, social, health and cultural barriers faced by them. This has been achieved by engaging girls to build their self-esteem and confidence to enroll in school .
How Innovative is the "LET GIRLS LEARN-ATSIKANA APHUNZIRE?"
The RISE "LET GIRLS LEARN-ATSIKANA APHUNZIRE!"Project is very innovative as it develops sustainable solutions including forming new partnerships with private sector, NGOs, CSOs, CBOs and Schools and government. Through engaging a range of actors, this project focuses on supporting adolescent girls back into school, improve levels of education and skills for adolescent girls and help them move into further study By providing training for Female Agents of Change (FACs) teachers, school committees and school heads, the RISE-"LET GIRLS LEARN-ATSIKANA APHUNZIRE!" Project supports schools to create girl-friendly learning environments and promote girls awareness of SRHR. By engaging parents in Family days, this project encourages greater parental and community support to help tackle community attitudes or norms which perpetuate harmful cultural practices such as child marriage, early pregnancy, domestic work, or Gender Based Violence that decrease girls access to education. By creating Girls Clubs, Mother Mentors Groups and Male Champions of Girls Education, this project improves girls SRH knowledge and practice, self-esteem, confidence and engagement for enrolling girls who dropped out of school due to early marriages back in school and for them to actively participate in class leading to gains in retention, achievement and learning in school and active participation in their families and communities . The project also provide bursaries to get the girls back in school and also provides technical support in sanitary pads making both for use and income generation .
Training marginilized girls in making reusable sanitary pads using locally available resources for use and as a way of income generation to ensure sustainability in their lives.
Over the past 2 years, RISE has achieved sustainable results and impact in the lives of girls in Lilongwe, Dowa and Dedza districts in central Malawi. The following transformational change has been achieved by the RISE comprehensive and rights based programmes: .
The "Girls Can Learn" and "Keeping Girls in School" initiatives have transformed lives of 6,000 out of school girls by improving their literacy and numeracy through accelerated learning activities at the RISE Community Creative Learning Centers (CCLCs). Through Life skills education, girls have achieved improved quality of family lives and have become active participants in decision making relating to their family or community.
Educational support: 900 girls were supported at secondary school level, accessed computer skills training, online learning through the Khan Academy and academic books at the RISE resource center
Increasing access to Sexual Reproductive Health, information, resources and services for rural girls: SRHR programmes have increased access to SRHR services to 2,340 girls and 750 boys. The Auntie Stella and Youth Can projects have created an enabling environment for girls by tackling harmful social and gender norms that perpetuate girls' rights violations.
Ending Child Early and Forced Marriages in rural Malawi. 410 girls are rescued from Child Early and Forced Marriages and supported into school. To date, 45 girls have finished their professional courses, are now employed and volunteering in RISE as role models. Further, 20 girls have been supported with specialized fistula medical care.
PROJECT RELEVANCE IN LINE WITH GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS INTERVENTIONS
This project is additional as it compliments other government programmes like the National Reading program and the GABLE in responding to the particular and often diverse needs and experiences of highly marginalized girls. Further, this project was designed and aligns with the following government measures and policies that have been put in place to increase access to education for marginalized groups: National Education Sector Plan, Universal Primary Education (UPE), Free and compulsory primary education, Non-discrimination and relevant and quality education mechanisms, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) theme 3 focusing on social development. As such, this project will compliment on the work and efforts that government or donor activities are already doing by focusing on increasing educational opportunities and outcomes for marginalized girls in rural Lilongwe and Dowa districts. Further, It is important to note that under article 211 of the 1994 constitution of Malawi, all international agreements ratified by Malawi before the Constitution entered into force on 18th May 1994 are binding on and form part of the Malawi national law. This project capitalizes on the availability of such international instruments including the Education for All (EFA) goals .
PROMOTING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS PROGRAMMES LINKING HIV/AIDS AND RIGHTS
SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH RIGHTS FOR WOMEN,
GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS AND OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE
In Malawi, HIV/AIDS continues to perpetuate a vicious cycle of human rights denial for the most social vulnerable especially women, girls and children. HIV infection is disproportionately female, and younger women are particularly affected. Young people are especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS in Malawi particularly girls and young women. 10.6% of adults (15-49 yrs.) are HIV positive. Women represent 57% of HIV- positive adults. And, 12.6 of girls' ages 15-24 are HIV- positive compared to 8.1% of young men Girls living with HIV/AIDS drop out of school and their right to education is denied due to stigma and overt hostility and unintended pregnancies due to lack of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) information and life skills. Few adolescents have access to primary prevention information.
Currently, Mother- to-Child Transmission constitutes roughly 30% of all HIV infections in Malawi which means 30,000 children are born infected with the HIV virus every year. Without integrated interventions at the family and community levels, one half of these children will die before their first birthday. Despite these facts, women and girls are still denied HIV/AIDS services and made more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and its devastating impact, due to gender inequality in education and health. They suffer overt hostility, social exclusion and stigma and discrimination which further prevent them from accessing PMTCT and family planning services or enjoying their SRH rights. In the remote rural villages where we are working, girls and young women are facing huge challenges in accessing HIV prevention education and they lack information on possibility and availability of SRH, family planning and HTC services making them more vulnerable to HIV infections, unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, stigma and discrimination and school drop outs. This project aims to bring sustainable change and improve the situation for girls and young women by creating a supportive environment where they will have improved access to HIV prevention education, information and care and support services.
As is the case in many nations, women in Malawi are socially and economically subordinate to men. This inequality fuels HIV infection, as traditional gender roles allow men to have sex with a number of partners and put women in a position where they are powerless to encourage condom use. Nearly one in five adolescent females (15-19yrs) reported force or coercion used in their first sexual experience. Many women are taught never to refuse sex with their husbands, and sexual abuse and coerced sex are common. In some communities, traditional practices such as 'wife inheritance' - where a widow is married to (or required to have sex with) a relative of her husband upon his death - may also increase the risk of HIV transmission, particularly in cases where AIDS was the cause of death of the woman's previous husband. Such rituals have been condemned by the Malawian government and RISE and other CSOs working in Malawi. The HIV/AIDS and rights programme is addressing these root causes through direct engagement with girls and young women while they are still young, and their
communities to change people's attitudes and practices towards girls and young women in relation to their human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS and SRH. This programme envisages creation of change by significantly reducing the HIV infection among girls and young women and creates a supportive environment for the promotion and protection of the rights of girls and young women. Projects under this programme are also building community capacity for the promotion of women's and girls' rights to SRHR, PMTCT, Family Planning and other rights based services. Through community education, fighting stigma and discrimination against women, men and young people living with HIV/AIDS; creation of referral linkages, encouraging male involvement, direct support services and referrals for services, projects under this programme are promoting the human rights of women, girls and other young people while directly linking them to their fundamental human rights.
PROMOTING CHILD RIGHTS TO EDUCATION
At RISE we strongly believe that all stages of human growth are important and directly linked to the universality of child rights, with each stage including specific milestones of progress. However, early childhood, which encompasses birth to eight years, is considered to be the most critical foundation stages of growth and development and an effective too for promotion of the child rights from the household and community perspectives. At, RISE we use the term "early childhood development", (ECD) is used to refer to the processes by which children grow and thrive, physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively during this time period. These early years have a longer lasting impact on the full life course than any other period. This is even more critical for marginalized and disadvantaged children whose educational rights continue to be denied.
SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION AS A HUMAN RIGHT
Figure 6: Girls are the most vulnerable to rights abuses that include child forced marriages, exploitation, domestic violence and others. RISE is promoting their rights by supporting them in school and keeping them there to empower them be productive citizens.
In Malawi, high school education is not free.
When poor families have to pay to educate their children they are often forced
to make tough choices about who can attend. This ends in denying the girl child her right to education.
In sub-Saharan Africa, boys earn more on the labor market, and a girl's future is still seen as her ability to marry well,
a gross violation of a range of her human rights. This has led to some striking imbalances in public education.
We know that cost, is just one of many factors that contribute to girls' lack of education.
Without programmess that address the multiple causes of dropout, simply financially supporting girls
through school is not enough.
A girls' likelihood of attending and staying in school depends in large part on:
Her ability to pay for not just school fees, but also the associated costs of education, school uniforms, exam fees, notebooks, and pens are often prohibitive for the poorest families.
Her right to access to accurate information about her owns sexual & reproductive health, her rights and training in self-advocacy. This information helps girls make informed life choices, avoid early pregnancy, avoid contraction of STIs like HIV, help them to marry later, and avoid becoming victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Her right to access information about post-secondary opportunities & the practical application of her education that helps her dream about a future beyond motherhood, servitude and subsistence agriculture.
Her right to access educated female role models. For most of our girls they have no women in their lives that have completed school beyond the 8th grade.
THE YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
Figure 6.1: Shows some of the youth who have completed the Six months RISE youth empowernment computer training course
At RISE we strongly believe that education is the greatest
tool to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty, desperation and ignorance.
As Nelson Madiba Mandela said, and we quote: "Education is the great engine of personal development.
It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor,
that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine that a child of farm workers can
become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given,
that separates one person from another." NELSON MANDELA- long walk to freedom ..
RISE is implementing an innovative and comprehensive education program that is empowering youths through education in the following approaches: Educational support at secondary and tertiary levels, creation of Youth Leadership Development Initiative that has over 3 years provided 200 youths with free computer and ICT training, books, internet access and online educational resources; and creating social forums and ICT Clubs where 1, 200 youths per year are benefiting. Young people are also engaged in SRHR education and empowerment and increasing access to SRHR resources, services and information to them.
Figure 6.2: A hands on approach to youth empowerment: young people in a computer class
Figure 6.3: Strong partenerships: The Director of SOLON FOUNDATION, Doug Funk from Canada. One of the funders of the youth leadership development initiative inspects the project and appreciates the change the initiative is bringing in the lives of young leaders .
RISE strongly believe that young people are the leaders of to
day and tomorrow and for them to be productive citizen they require life skills and empowerment.
These young people do believes much more better on what their peers says. So in order to reach them
with information it is vital to mobilise them in peer support groupings so called Youth and Girls Clubs.
As these young people meet they discuss pertnent issues affecting their lives like HIV and AIDS,
drugs and substance abuse, un intended pregnancies and access to SRHR information and services.
As they meet they also address misconception around SRHR and sexuality issues affecting their life
through formal discussions and role plays. So far, 900 girls and young women and 300 boys have been
reached with SRHR, Life skills, HIV prevention and human rights education, resources and empowerment
through youth clubs and girls clubs. A tatal number of 12 Youth Clubs and 8 girls clubs have been either established or strengthed. ..
Further, as part of our direct youth empowerment drive, young people have accessed computer skillls. The attained skills will help them to effectively communicate and be market ready and competent as they search for jobs in this digital world. As young people are on the centre of this so called technology and investing in them is vital for having productive and dependable citizens who can contribute towards social and economic development of the country. Further, young people have accessed libralry services that included academic and intellectual books. This library facility is also contributing to the building of a reading culture among these young people and within the communities. Furtrher, this has fulfilled their right to access information and shall boost their self motivation and effective innovation.
Figure 6.4: Combining leadership development with enhancing of skills for professional development, a computer programming in progress at the youth leadership initiative program at RISE.
Figure 6.5: Promoting arts amoung young people:creating change makers,human rights and SRHR Educators using theatre, creative dances and drama. Youth arts festival rehersals in progress
SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE IN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
This is a flagship youth empowerment program under The Youth Leadership
The project has supported 9 students to pursue tertiary education. These students are studying a
range of course at different colleges and universities in Malawi and their course range from ICT,
Community Development, Humanities, HIV/AIDS Management, Social Work studies, accounting and business
management courses at different colleges in Malawi. These students passed through in-depths assessment
which has helped to have clear understanding better of their academic goals rather than imposing on them what course to undertake.
This support will cut their chain of poverty because after graduating from their respective collages they will be in position
to support their fellow children. This is the case because in Malawi it becomes easy to secure a better paid up
jobs once you possess diploma or degree in specific field.
Figure 6.6: Ready for transition: some of the 9 2015 selected students to pursue tertiary education while other three being at large.
HUMAN IMPACT OF THE YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE-the story
of Steve Kamphinda (A case study and testimony
My name is Steve Kamphinda. I am 25 years old now. I am one of the students picked in 2012 under the tertiary educational support RISE is doing with support from Solon Foundation. I did studies in Business Management from 2012 January to 2014 December. I acquired a Graduate Diploma in Business Management. I am thanking Solon Foundation for the support provided to me throughout my school lifetime of secondary and college. This educational support is really bringing changes in the lives of young people including me. For example I am working with the RISE as Projects Officer as a way to contribute back to the organization from what I achieved. I see great changes in me not because of work I am doing but I am also open the mind of entrepreneurship which is good for the Malawi nation because of high unemployment rate. I am very proud of this educational programme because it is really assisting the poor generation of young people in Malawi communities.
STEVE ON HIS GRADUATION DAY -9TH SEPTEMBER 2015
HUMAN IMPACT OF THE YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE-the story
of Fanny Phiri (A case study and testimony
My name is Fanny Phiri. I am 27 years old now. I am one of the students picked in 2012 under the tertiary educational support RISE is doing with support from Solon Foundation. I studied Human Resource Management from 2014 January to 2016 December. I acquired an Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management. I am thanking Solon Foundation for the support provided to me throughout my school lifetime of secondary and college. This educational support is really bringing changes in the lives of young people including me. For example I am working with the RISE as Project officer for ECD and PMTCT as a way to contribute back to the organization from what I achieved. I see great changes in me not because of work I am doing but I am also open the mind of entrepreneurship which is good for the Malawi nation because of high unemployment rate. I am very proud of this educational programme because it is really assisting the poor generation of young people in Malawi communities.
FANNY IN HER OFFICE