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Women and girls sing at the launch of the HIV prevention project

Protecting Adolescent Girls and Young Women from HIV

The project aims to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adolescent girls and young women in Mulanje district. It works to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, reduce the school drop out rate and the incidence of violence against women and girls.

Mulanje district has the country's second highest rate of new HIV infection (19.9%) and over 60% of these are among girls and young women.  Dropout rates for girls in primary school (10.9%) are twice the rates among boys (4.9%) and only 18.1% of girls enrolled in primary school go onto secondary school.

The main contributing factors for school drop-out includes high school fees which increases the chances of girls opting for early marriage, concurrent sexual partnerships and engaging in sex for work. Teenage pregnancy here are also high. By the age of 24 around 84.8% of the girls in Mulanje have had more than 1 pregnancy.

Key information
Location

Mulanje district in Malawi

Partners

The Malawi Girl Guides Association (MAGGA) and Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO)

Project value

USD 2.1 million 

Funded by

Global Fund through Action Aid

Timescale

January - December 2017

Our approach

We are working with two partners, the Malawi Girl Guides Association (MAGGA) and Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) to tackle the issues that increase the risk of HIV infection among adolescent women and girls in Mulanje district, Malawi. The project is building on YONECO's experience or working with out of school girls and youth education and MAGGA’s work with girls in school through the girl clubs, scout movement and life-skills training.

The project interventions include:

  • Comprehensive education on sexual health targeting girls in school to strengthen their agency to make decisions on their sexuality
  • Working with teachers to roll out the newly ratified code of conduct to protect girls from sexual and gender based violence while in school;
  • Working with boys to support and protect their female counterparts.
  • At community level, partner YONECO is working with out-of-school girls to mentor and empower them to participate in alternative livelihood activities.
  • Working to engage parents, community and religious leaders to change detrimental attitudes and social norms that increase the risk of HIV infection 

Results

In school activities 

  • 216 teachers have been trained to deliver sexual education and in turn they have reached 14,912 students 
  • 294 teachers have been equipped to support and protect girls education based on a code of conduct.
  • 34 girls have been re-admitted into school, after learning about the school's re-admission policy and empowering mother groups 

Out of school

  • 34,081 girls now know their HIV status as a result of increased uptake of sexual reproductive health messages 
  • 51 gender based violence issues have been identified and referred to community's victim support unit 
  • 280 girls have been trained to make sanitary pads to help reduce school absence during their period and also as a way to supplement income of out of school girls. These girls are to train others in their  communities.
  • 1060 girls have been empowered economically through Village Savings and Loans training. This income helps to keep girls out of sex work.

Community activities 

  • Religious leaders/Initiation councillors have received training on harmful cultural practices that promote the spread of HIV/AIDS.
  • Working to engage parents, community and religious leaders to change detrimental attitudes and social norms that increase the risk of HIV infection 
  • Engaging the community to talk about gender based violence
  • Trained 84 men as male champions to lead in addressing issues of gender based violence against women
  • Conducted 21 session on legal  issues related to GBV

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“ The approach taken is building and leveraging on the successes and lessons from similar programmes in the country to challenge the structural, legal, economic and cultural factors that push women and girls to become most vulnerable to HIV and overall health risks”
Dr Jean Kalilani
Minister for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare
Related work and experience

Pansi Katenga

Phone: +265 752944

Email: pkatenga@christian-aid.org