Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) programme adviser Takondwa Kaliwo says development plans need to be specific to girls’ needs.
Kaliwo said this onSaturday during a meeting between Genet girl leaders with aspiring councillorsand members of Parliament at Dindi Primary School in Traditional AuthorityChiwalo’s area in Phalombe.
“We have realised that most development plans are not specific to girls’ needs. We want aspirants to be aware that girls are a population that they should think of, plan and budget for,” she said.
Kaliwo said girls walk long distances to school and lack access to proper health services, especially sexual and reproductive health services.
The girls presented their manifesto to aspirants which, among other issues, included the need for vocational trainings and eradication of harmful cultures as well as other gender needs.
“Girls are being abused physically with some as young as 13 being married off,” she said.
Genet has established girl clubs where they train girls in leadership, enlighten them on gender gender-based violence laws, literacy skills, advocacy and the legal age for marriage.
Phalombe District Social welfare officer Sidreck Saukira encouraged girls to get educated, saying the legal age 18 is not a licence for marriage.
“The law says it’s possible to marry it does not say to marry. A week does not pass by without receiving cases of early marriages and pregnancies at my office,” he said.
Senior chief Chiwalo also condemned parents’ resistance to change and encouraged girls to go to school.
“We are protecting you from marriages, premature deaths and disabilities,” he said.
Genet is running the programme under the Enabling Girls to Advance Gender Equity (Engage) initiative in partnership with Youth Net and Counselling, International Centre for Research in Women with funding from Rise Up.