The Malawian first Lady, Gertrude Mutharika launched three projects targeted at helping girl child promotion and development. In the K34 billion launch, the first lady appealed to community leaders, parents and stakeholders in the country to take the initiative and commitment in fostering girls’ education.
The first lady said this when she, alongside the United States Ambassador Virginia Palmer officially launched a K6 billion, ASPIRE project that aims at girl child empowerment through education and health with funding from USAID.
Speaking on this, Madam Mutharika said “ASPIRE” is focused on encouraging and helping the girl child achieve a successful education free of all forms of hindrance.
“It is a necessity that girls should be taught how to take care of themselves and are self aware of the changes in their bodies so that no one takes advantage of them,” she added while urging schools and community leaders as well as all stakeholders to see to it that all forms of girl sexual harassment is put to end as this is one of the major challenges faced by the girl child in the country.
She also urged that a safe environment should be created in schools so the female children would attend their classes without any physical or emotional threats
Further more, Virginia Palmer who accompanied the first lady said through Aspire project, they are hopefully targeting at least 90 per cent of students in grade four who would finish grade eight by 2018 as against the current 77 percent.
“ASPIRE will work with 138,000 adolescent girls enrolled in all 317 primary and 40 secondary schools in Balaka and Machinga districts. It will establish community reading centers and provide training for teachers to help improve girls’ reading skills,” she said .
Palmer also presented a symbolic cheque from the American Ambassador to Malawi to signify the United States government investment in girls’ education and health through the ASPIRE activity.
In the cheque, K6 billion for empowering girls through education and health in a project called Aspire, K10 billion mapped out for a Dreams Project for prevention of the spread of HIV to girls and young women and K19 billion for ACT programme for ensuring that HIV-positive children–boys and girls alike– get life-saving treatment.
School children from Nkhonde Catholic Primary School received the first lady with the Aweya dance while some were were seen carrying placards to demonstrate their right to Education in Balaka-(c) Abel Ikiloni, Mana.