Gender-based violence is an ongoing problem at technical colleges across Malawi, and now students, instructors, and principals at 14 colleges are prepared to tackle the problem using the arts.
During the first of two 3-day workshops, we dove deep into topics around gender and gender-based violence (GBV), and how these things play out at the colleges. Aubrey Matemba, the director of Technical, Entrepreneurial, and Vocational Education and Training (TEVET) colleges, kicked off the workshop and stressed the need for this to be taken seriously.
Some of the topics that came up were challenging the misconception that GBV only takes place within a marriage, male dominance within the household, what is and isn’t consent, sexism within the workforce, gender roles, the media’s portrayal of women, sexual violence, and what reporting looks like at each institution. Throughout the training, participants used various artistic techniques and activities to explore these topics, such as image theatre, forum theatre, drawings, and poetry.
“Political will is very much needed,” one participant said when the discussion turned to how gender equality can be achieved. “Our leaders need to be on the front of the change. It worked in the past.”
After taking the time to really explore what GBV is, how it happens at TEVET colleges, and where the gaps are when it comes to reporting and response, the second 3-day workshop focused on coming up with artistic projects to address it all.
The groups of students, instructors, and principals from each college used a human-centred design process to design campaigns for their campus. In the time between the two trainings, the groups did research at their college to determine the areas of greatest need and to get input from their colleagues. From there, they spent the training coming with answers to questions phrased as, “How might we…?” Such as “How might we increase reporting of GBV?” or “How might we engage men and boys on the topic of GBV?”
The uniqueness of this training is what especially stood out to the participants, who were not expecting that they would have so much input into how the interventions were designed and implemented.
“This training has helped me so much. To be frank, this was my second time attending a GBV training, but this one in particular has had an impact on my life for sure,” one participant said. “It was definitely an eye-opener.”
At the end of the training, each group walked away with an action plan and a campaign to kick off. We can’t wait to see what they do!
The programme is supported through the Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP), an initiative partially implemented by UNESCO with funding from the European Union.