Thursday, 16 March 2017

Youth Council, Partners commemorate Women’s Day, Launch five-month story competition

The National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) and some of its partners joined the rest of the country and the world in commemorating the International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday, 10 March, 2017, at Mponera Community Technical College in Dowa district.

The IWD falls on 8 March, and was this year commemorated under the international theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030”. Malawi however localised the international theme to “Closing the Gender Gap in the World of Work by 2030”.  This day was set aside by the United Nations to promote women’s rights and participation in political, social and economic environment. The theme notes some of the gender gaps that currently exist in the employment, education and other various sectors.

A cross-section of people attending the IWD commemoration in at Mponera Community Technical College, Dowa
The event involved the participation of the Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurial Training Authority (TEVETA), some government ministries and youth groups in Dowa district. The commemoration was supported financially and technically by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) through its Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP) currently being implemented in the country.

The event was conducted in two different sessions: the morning session involving an empowerment and motivation talks for in and out of school female youths and practical sessions in tailoring, welding, plumbing, carpentry and bricklaying, technical fields that are customarily dominated by males. The afternoon session involved community interaction among the pupils from primary and secondary schools, students from the technical college and members of the community.

Brick and mortar: Secondary school pupils trying out their bricklaying skills
In the morning session, the secondary and primary school pupils received motivation talks from current technical and vocational college students and graduates, after which they put their hands to practice, excitedly participating in the three afore-stated technical areas.

Girls listen attentively as a role model demonstrates and explains some plumbing skills. 
Ahaa! So this is how it looks like through the welding mask?! Wow!
There was a heavy downpour not long after the afternoon session had started but that did not stop the people from carrying on with the commemorations. The event was interrupted for some time as everyone went into the college hall to continue with the colourful function.

The community engagement session involved speeches from various stakeholders, an orientation and motivation session from TEVETA, which marketed the trades currently being offered in the technical colleges, appealing to the female youths to take up the challenges as had done their role models who were currently successful in the industry. There were also speeches from the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare and the UNESCO-STEP.
They watched the demonstration of the skills with the attention and serenity of a lizard that is about to catch a life-giving fly

The excitement in the girls could not be overemphasized
During the event, NYCOM and UNESCO-STEP also launched a story writing competition for young people. The competition requires young people aged 10-35 to write and submit stories about women they know who are courageous and have pursued non-traditional careers and have shaped new gender roles.  

The competition, billed as the "Ngwazi Zazikazi Story Competition", will run from March 10 to July 10, 2017, but the presentation of the main prizes is expected to be made on International Youth Day (IYD) on August 12, 2017. There will also be monthly and weekly prizes before the main prizes are presented. Some of the winning stories will also be aired on a local radio station that is yet to be named.

Reggae-Dancehall songstress, Sangie, performing 'Ngwazi Zazikazi', the theme song for the IWD in Malawi. She features Chiwamba in the audio and its yet-to-be-released video. 
The event was spiced up by performances from female reggae-dancehall songstress, Sangie and renowned vernacular poet, Robert Chiwamba. There were also performances from local performing arts groups. Chiwamba and Sangie have also provided the theme song and theme poem form the IWD and the story writing competition.
Chiwamba pouring out his energy in support of women empowerment. His poem, also titled 'Ngwazi Zazikazi' is also already going around faster than a rumour.