By:Francis Polinyu Banda

The United Nations Fund for Population Agency UNFPA,says it plans to provide startup funds to young women who are members of youth clubs that are also known as Safe Spaces in Mangochi district.

The seed funds will be disbursed to the clubs for members to borrow so that they open up businesses that will in turn make them self reliant.

The fund has been announced during a series of youth trainings the district youth office conducted in collaboration with the office of gender and social welfare in traditional authorities Katuli and Bwananyambi in the district, with support from UNFPA.

Commenting on the development, Assistant District Gender Officer for Mangochi Laston Chikopa, commended UNFPA for the arrangement.

Chikopa noted that most of gender based violence (GBV) cases in the district take place due to women’s over reliance on their spouses for financial support.

“Most young ladies who formed these clubs have gone through various degrees of abuses in the hands of their spouses.Some have lived in dehumanising conditions to the extent that they chose to separate with their husbands.This is why they formed youth clubs which are also known as Safe Spaces where only young ladies meet to share their concerns”,Chikopa said.

He said giving seed money to these women is a welcome development as this will empower them financially and live a meaningful life in their families.

“This fund is coming at a right time as most of women here in Mangochi are facing a number of abuses.Some were married and dumped after being used and some are entered in the polygamy traps unwillingly by taking advantage of their poverty.We hope that this fund will empower these young ladies to avoid some of the abuses because they will be busy doing businesses that will be supporting them financially”,he said.

According to Chikopa,Mangochi district gender office is also working with men who are known as male champions in the fight against GBV in different traditional authorities in the district to ensure that all concerned parties on issues of gender based violence are taken on board.

Most women in Mangochi suffer gender based violence as most of their spouses do not cohabit with them.

Some  married women and girls are divorced for reasons best known by their husbands as most men in the district are fishermen and some go to Mozambique and South Africa looking for jobs where they remarry after sometime.

The women and girls opt to suffer in silence without reporting the abuses  to the authorities.

The UNFPA supported youth  trainings in Mangochi  ended on June 28th, 2024, and have provided the youth and local leaders an opportunity to discuss gender based violence,types of gender based violence, types of conflicts and how to deal with them.


By Francis Banda

Francis Banda is an award winning journalist who covers stories in Africa and around the world

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