Gender and Justice Unit equips 40 Trainers of Trainers with GBV prevention skills in Lilongwe

The Gender and Justice Unit (GJU) on Monday conducted a daylong refresher training of trainers (ToTs) with skills for preventing and responding to gender based violence (GBV) and provision of psychosocial support to survivors of various forms of violence in Lilongwe.

The refresher training drew participants from peri-urban areas of Chigwirizano in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Malili, Chitipi in T/A Njerwa, Mtandire and Lumbadzi in T/As Kulamula and Chitukula.

GJU is one of the local non-governmental organizations devoted to the advancement of social and economic empowerment of women and girls in Malawi.

With financial support from Trocaire, an overseas development agency of the Irish Catholic Church, GJU is currently implementing its “Enhancing Women’s Capacity to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence (GBV)” project in the said peri-urban areas in Lilongwe.

In its trend study results, the organization noted that women and girls continue to suffer from different forms of violence, citing lack of spousal and child support as some of the challenges women face.

It further observed that women lack the financial means to afford a lawyer or even to travel to court to obtain a summons to address these issues and other GBV-related issues.

In an interview after the training, GJU Deputy Director and Projects Manager, Emma Kalea Chigwenembe, said it is against this background that the organization decided to strengthen the capacity of the 40 previously trained ToTs in the project impact area.

“The TOT in the project works with the Paralegal Officer in the VAWG case identification and support in the case referral system at the community level. The trained TOTs in the project will work with the community justice structures; the CVSU, the local leaders (chiefs) and with the formal structure like the Police VSU as referral points on the cases that they are able to identify within their communities,” said Chigwenembe.

Training of Trainers (ToTs) in progress at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe

She added that the ToTs will be supported and capacitated with legal knowledge and awareness through the refresher training that GJU will provide.

Chigwenembe stated that the use of the trained ToTs assists in the creation of demand to access justice services for the survivors that may not have the confidence to go directly and report to the existing community structures or may not have access to the GJU hotline and legal clinics.

“They play a critical role in acting as the first contact in the community; escorting the survivors to seek legal justice services or supporting and encouraging the survivors to report the cases to the GJU hotline. The ToTs are used as community mobilizers when GJU will be conducting community awareness campaigns on GBV in the impact areas,” she explained.

Chigwenembe emphasized that access to justice does not mean merely access to the institutions, but also access to fair laws, procedures, affordable, implementable and appropriate remedies in terms of values that are in conformity to constitutional values and directives.

She observed that distances, values, lay or professional decision-makers, accountability of court functionaries (in both systems) are some of the hindrances to accessing justice for most Malawians, especially women and girls.

The training facilitator and Executive Director of Trust Psychosocial Support Ltd, Sylvia Namakhwa, challenged the ToTs to assume a greater role not only in sealing gaps in the justice delivery systems, but also providing psychosocial support to GBV survivors.

Meanwhile, Chigwenembe has disclosed that the project will continue to be implemented in similar impact areas as the final review of the last project noted that further engagement with the targeted communities was needed in order to support the sustainability of the interventions.

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