[ACNS, by Peter Chipanga] Women in Malawi have been urged to open up and discus issues that relate to gender-based violence (GBV), regardless of the environment they are in. The call was made by Guilds’ Coordinator in the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire, Yasinta Mtambo during the closure of a four day training workshop for women in leadership positions in the diocese, which was held in Liwonde, Machinga from 11 to 14 December 2017.
According to Mtambo, one of the objectives was to discuss issues which affect women on GBV and also explore the way forward. It was noted that being a religious person does not stop one from revealing gender based violence acts.
“We cannot progress or win against the battle of gender-based violence if we keep quiet or pretend GBV is not existing amidst us,” she said. “As noted, various forms of gender-based violence are happening all over but only a few cases are addressed because we keep quiet which is retrogressive and bad for the nation.”
In an interview, Mtambo said the 50 participants were drawn from across the diocese which covers Zomba, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Neno Mwanza, Phalombe and Ntcheu, to effectively reach out to the grassroot level.
Mtambo said most of the participants were from the Executive of Women’s guilds like Mothers’ Union, Daughters of the King, St Monica plus St Agnes teachers from all archdeaconries. “The diocese also wanted to equip these women leaders to help those affected in our various communities which would help the country solve GBV,” she said.
Training facilitators included the Revd Symon Matumbo, the Revd Mphatso Luzanani and Victor Banda, an official from Machinga District hospital, who talked about women’s health. The facilitators hinted that it was important because the issues discussed were mostly happening in the communities from which the leaders were coming from.
The facilitators said they expected the leaders to use the gained knowledge as a spring boat to reach out and discuss with fellow women in their communities in order to get ways of getting rid of GBV within the communities, including the Church.
Class President, Norah Kandapo observed that GBV issues are mostly tackled on high levels in most of the settings and hailed the organisers for engaging people who touch base with the grassroots level.
“This is where most issues are often happening so this training is good as it has targeted people from the grassroots level, who have also shared experiences from that level which will also help the church in coming up with better strategies of tackling GBV issues.
“We therefore thank the organisers, financiers and facilitators for the workshop and ask all participants to make use of what has been learned here," said Kandapo who is also Diocesan Mothers’ Union treasurer.
She added: “It is high time we opened up and discussed such issues, especially in the Church where together we can help those who suffering silently.”
One of the participants, Getrude Kachepatsonga, who sits in the diocesan Daughters of the King as a secretary, said the training was of great importance as it tackled on issues that are rarely discussed within the Church setting.
“Gender-based violence is mainly looked at as an issue that does not affect the Church,” she said. “It is also taken as something concerning married women, yet not all victims are married women,” she said, observing that GBV is faced in various places including in schools, the Church as well as in families.
“The training has been an eye opener and as a leader, I shall endeavour to share the information with others so that together we can eradicate the vice, and have a better Malawi,” she said.
The training was made possible with financial help from the Norwegian Church Aid through the Malawi Council of Churches, which includes the Anglican Church.