Creating A Safe Space for Women at Malawian Technical Colleges

In June of this year, Art and Global Health Centre worked with UNESCO to host trainings with TEVET colleges in Malawi, focusing on understanding and preventing gender-based violence (GBV) at the schools. These trainings, which are part of ArtGlo and UNESCO’s Gender-Based Violence Project, provided colleges with guidance and tools for developing their own projects and reporting systems related to the elimination of GBV. 


Now, many of the TEVET colleges that underwent training have been working towards building their projects within their communities, creating a more just, equal, and safe space for all of their students. ArtGlo had a chance to catch up with some of the administration from the colleges of Namitete, Lilongwe, Ngara, and Milonga to learn more about their progress, highlights, and challenges thus far. 


Since the trainings, the understanding of GBV has broadened among many of the administrators and students at all four colleges. The awareness of what constitutes GBV has expanded significantly. Deputy principal of Ngara, Rosemary Kumwenda shared,

“The training opened up our eyes, and we know what GBV  is and why it exists – if you are an instructor you need to know the law.”

She also added that there are many GBV incidents occurring at the college that students and administrators have failed to report and address. The hope is that moving forward, after the campaigns and trainings, the college will have a more effective reporting, disciplinary, and support system for victims. 


Bornface Zalanje from Namitete added that the trainings and conversations with students have enabled the students to realize that they are victims of GBV; “It has enlightened the students about how they can handle situations of abuse,” he shared.  In terms of the staff members, it has created an increased awareness; “there are some areas they [the staff] didn’t know were a form of gender-based discrimination,” explained Zalanje. The administration and staff are working towards being more conscious of the issue and developing plans to take action against all forms of GBV within the college. 

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Angelina Muleme, an instructor in Milonga, shared that victims previously did not know where to go with their problems. A lot of times they did “favours” for people in leadership positions to gain employment, and were coerced into sexual acts. The aim, post-training, is to ensure there will be strong disciplinary action towards all perpetrators, with the goal of significantly reducing violence in the school. The reduction of GBV will lead to lower drop-out rates and a quality education for everyone at the college. 


Additionally, Matrida Makuluni from Lilongwe added that, “women have been denied their rights by superiors due to disagreements at some points.” The inequality based on gender hinders the progress of women studying. However, the college is working towards deconstructing misconceptions that surround gender and GBV, ensuring there are consequences when womens’ rights are violated.


Currently most colleges are on summer break, however all four college administrators have expressed excitement for and dedication to working on their GBV projects in September. ArtGlo looks forward to supporting all of our TEVET colleges in their journeys to strive for gender equality and the eradication of GBV in educational spaces. 


The programme is supported through the Skills and Technical Education Programme – STEP, an initiative partially implemented by UNESCO with funding from the European Union in Malawi.