Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) has graduated 1500 girls in Dowa district in a program dubbed ‘safe space mentorship’ which is being carried out under a project called Spotlight Initiative which is being implemented by GENET in Dowa district.
The girls (mentees) who have graduated are from five Traditional Authorities (T/As) in Dowa namely; Dzoole, Mkukula, Chiwele, Mponela and Msakambewa where Spotlight Initiative project is being implemented.
Speaking on the sidelines of the final graduation ceremony of the mentees which was held at Kalonga Primary School ground in the area of T/A Dzoole on Wednesday, GENET Spotlight Initiative Project Coordinator, Twambilire Kayuni said that the mentees who have graduated have been equipped with knowledge that would enable them to promote and defend their rights.
“The mentees who have graduated have been empowered with various skills such as; life, decision making and communication skills in order for them to be able to promote and defend their rights.
“Additionally, we have also imparted the mentees with knowledge on human rights, Gender Based Violence (GBV), child marriage and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) issues, by giving them these skills we wanted them to know and understand what constitutes violence and be able to report when their rights have been violated,” Kayuni said.
She added that, the mentees who have graduated have been tasked to support fellow girls in their communities when they have faced any form of GBV or other challenges affecting their human rights.
Kayuni also said that, the graduated mentees have also been advised to form groups in their communities and each group will be given K50, 000 as startup capital so that they embark on small businesses and remain financially independent.
Moving forward, she said her organization through the Spotlight Initiative project will recruit another bunch of 1500 girls in Dowa who will undergo six months mentorship training under safe space mentorship program.
According to her, GENET through the Spotlight Initiative project envisions to create GBV free environment in Dowa district.
“As GENET through our Spotlight Initiative project, we have the vision to create GBV free environment in Dowa, we want to see girls bringing out GBV cases into the spotlight and we want also to see duty bearers taking GBV cases up by ensuring that GBV perpetrators are brought to book,” she said.
In her remarks, one of the mentees who have graduated from T/A Dzoole, Maria Chitembeya said that through safe space mentorship program she has gained self confidence and knowledge regarding girls’ rights.
“Through safe space mentorship program, I have gained self confidence and knowledge concerning girls’ rights, with the knowledge and skills which I have gained I can confidently speak out when someone has violated my rights and I can also support my fellow girls when their rights are being abused,” Chitembeya said.
In his comment, Dowa District Social Welfare Officer, Jonathan Bonongwe commend GENET for introducing safe space mentorship program saying that it would help to empower girls in Dowa district to be able to speak out when their rights have been violated.
“Many girls in Dowa district they do not report when their rights have been violated, hence the introduction of safe space mentorship program by GENET would help to empower girls with relevant knowledge and skills that would enable them to speak out when their rights have been dishonored,” Bonongwe said.
GENET is implementing Spotlight Initiative project in Dowa district with funding from European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN).