International Rural Women’s Day is an International celebration led by the United Nations; celebrating and honoring the role rural women play in the world. The day falls on 15th October each year, where it recognizes the importance of women in enhancing agricultural and rural development worldwide.
In Malawi, Team Sapitwa chose to celebrate the day with an awareness campaign at Njedza Secondary School in Mulanje, with the theme “A Chance to Choose”.
In Malawi, particularly in rural areas, young girls from the age of 13 to 18 end up being victims of early marriages; not because they want to but due to many factors - poverty, lack of encouragement from elders, and predominantly the belief that it is a waste of time to send a girl to school as they will marry someday and the husband will be the provider of everything.
This prompted the team to come up with an awareness campaign which focused on keeping girls in school, and the different roles that are played by rural women in their communities.
The team managed to reach around 250 students, 20 of which were male and 230 were female.
The awareness carried a number of activities like poems,career guidance and a true life story narrated by one the in-country volunteers.
UK volunteers Gemma Duncan and Charlotte Brazier led the career guidance talk with the aim of motivating the girls. The students were encouraged to work hard in order to achieve the goals they have set, so that they may contribute to the development of their country.
Taonga Mtambo, one of the in-country volunteers (who is a journalist by profession), narrated her story to success, a role model for the female students. In her story the girl was encouraged to get focused on her education, so that they may one day contribute to the development of their country.
“I encourage you girls to set goals and work hard to achieve them, I am female and also a Malawian. I understand what being a girl is like in Malawi and how hard it is for a Malawian rural girl to succeed in her education. However, if you keep your mind focused on your goals it is possible to sail through all the hardships and achieve your goals.’’
George Magner, a UK volunteer came up with a poem which caught the attention of the students. In the poem, he appreciated the roles played by rural women and talked about the rights that women have, such as, the right to own land and other properties, right to education and the right to leadership and decision making. He also encouraged the students on working hard in class so that they can achieve their goals.
COMMENTS FROM STUDENTS
“When I complete my studies I want to be a pilot. Though I am a boy, but the talk that has happened here is going to help me in such a way that I will work hard in school and also encourage my sisters to work hard in their studies, because education is for all of us”. James Banda.
“When I complete my studies I want to be a journalist, what has happened here has helped me a lot because I have been encouraged and I have known that poverty cannot stop me from achieving my goals. I am looking forward to a successful future.” Maria Phiri.
Written by ICS National volunteers Taonga Mtambo and Trevor Lakeli