As a youth, I had very little understanding on gender issues. And as it is per our Malawian culture, I had roles which I was supposed to follow and be doing as a boy at home and in the society. Because of this, I was a number one supporter and very good at defining the word gender as socially defined roles for men and women and that those things should be that way. 

But after having trainings on gender and gender-based violence by our partner organisation, the Centre for Girls and Interaction (CEGI), and with some help from my team members, I now have a better understanding and have changed my mind set on gender and gender roles. I now know that everyone has a capacity to do any job regardless of their sex. 

The training received has opened my mind that no one (between men and women) has more power than the other and also that as a youth I have to take a leading role in breaking these gender roles and changing people’s mindset in my community .

Team Zeneko, in conjunction with CEGI, is conducting more sessions, which are based on different topics, including gender and ending gender-based violence (GBV), in schools and youth groups. As a team member, I take part in planning and delivering these sessions.

These socially constructed roles between men and women are contributing to the great number of cases of GBV, e.g. girls being raped, girls being denied their right to education, right to access of information, and girls and/or women denied access to equal opportunities both in the home, at school and at work. The created roles are sole contributors to negativity and blocking important opportunities to both young boys and girls and older men and women. They have created a dab image in youth, especially girls who view themselves as inferiors, because these gender roles favour boys and views them as being more important than girls. 

Ending these gender roles will also help to end GBV. Our team is doing all it can within its capacity in getting involved and contributing to breaking and ending these socially defined roles.

Change starts with me.

Written by ICS volunteer Francis Yakoma Masingi