Despite progress made in uplifting the lives of Malawians, women are generally treated as second-class citizens and seen as someone to look after the home and bear children. Women have always been marginalized and relegated to the status of subjugated class in Mulanje as it is in other parts of Malawi. Especially in rural areas, women have been not actively participated in their emancipation due to their lack of economic independence and illiteracy. Low economic status of women, youths, in the area has resulted in high incidence of Gender based violence, child abuse, low youth empowerment and low participation in decision making. Women and girls of the area are characterized by poverty and they are mostly involved in household chores, do not make any decisions in family affairs. In addition, women and girls have low education status as they are excluded from receiving basics to higher education and entirely dependent on their male counterparts.

Women should be organized and strengthened at the grass root level to end their subordination. CHICOSUDO is making an attempt in that direction to make rural women and girls at risk and survivors of child marriages to be self reliant through Ntonya Community Vocational Skills Training Center. In view of the financial constraints that a family faces, this skill-building project strives to empower the women, survivors of child brides and community at large. It was observed that if they are equiped with knowledge and skills, women would be given more avenues to earn their living. The project will also help them raise their voices against the ill treatment accorded to them within their families or outside. The main focus is to enhance the quality of life of women and survivors of child marriages through increased knowledge and skills. CHICOSUDO also realized that merely imparting literacy would not be sufficient. The women need vocational training or skills and capital to uplift their status. They should be able to stand on their feet and be an earning member of the family.

After successfully removed 25 adolescent girls in early marriages in 2019 to 2020 through End Child Marriage Now Campaign, CHICOSUDO realized that, not all adolescence girls who are returned back into school continue with their education rather they drop out of school to remarry or lost. May factors include limited support for their children at home and less support to attain their education. After focus group discussions with survivors of child marriages, they show their desire of learning skills to attain self-reliance. It was against this background where CHICOSUDO piloted the project. The pilot project started in July and end in December 2021. There were two groups, 20 and 30 making the number to be 50. They were supported with different donors. This second phase will focus on the following: ensuring access to loans so that they start their own enterprises through the introduction of loan revolving funds, enrolling new learners in existing tailoring and newly introduced field of Salon and Cosmetics and any other that deemed to viable in the community, encourage learners to join village and savings banks groups so that they develop the spirit of saving culture and are able to pay back the loans so that other should have access. Lastly CHICOSUDO will be providing business coaching to ensure smooth running of their businesses.

Project goal: Empowering 200 marginalized women of 15 to 25 years old in traditional authority Nkanda in Mulanje and Senior Chief Kapeni in Blantyre by equipping them with tools to become self-reliant through tailoring/design, Saloon/Cosmetics, IT, Art and Galley, Cellphone repair, Matt making, weevil, business formation and Management and support by December 2022.

• To provide practical employment oriented skills training to 200 trained marginalized women and girls and in traditional authority Nkanda, Mulanje by December 2022. trained in Computer basics in Blantyre
• Increasing access to capital and servings among 200 marginalized women and girls and in traditional authority Nkanda and Senior Chief Kapeni by introducing Loan revolving fund and village savings and loans.
To raise awareness on sexual reproductive health and rights and other social issues by December 2021.
To encourage self-employment by acting support agency for providing necessary help and linking them to the market and introduction of Savings and Internal Lending Community by December 2022.
• To certify and to liaison with TEVETA and regulatory authority in order to strengthen their confidence and community trusts among 200 trained girls and women by December 2022.

Activities

1. Community entry
2. Facilitate the practical sessions.
3. Recruitment of beneficiaries.
4. Actual Training.
(i). Tailoring and design
(ii). Saloon and Cosmetics
(iii). Business formation and management
5. Introduction of loan revolving fund
6. Facilitating the continuation of Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC)
7. Business mentorship and support