SWAGAA’s latest research initiative, the Empowering Girls for Improved Health and Well-Being (EGHW) project, wants to understand the impacts of our Girl Empowerment Clubs as school-based interventions to prevent and mitigate violence against women and girls, as well as the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
Targeting the most vulnerable girls, the objectives of the EGHW project are to improve the sexual and reproductive health of girls, increase school retention, develop and build on girls’ social assets and access to services to report and respond to violence and abuse.
Specifically looking at primary school students between the ages of 9 and 14 years, the EGHW project is currently working in 30 schools from 2 regions in Swaziland – Manzini and Lubombo.
Project Officer, Sakhile Dlamini, has been with the EGHW project since she started with SWAGAA seven months ago. Sakhile has seen, first-hand, the positive impacts SWAGAA’s Girl Empowerment Clubs have had on participants, especially around improved confidence, assertiveness and academic achievement.
One of SWAGAA’s goals with the Girl Empowerment Club program is to implement its curriculum in all primary schools across Swaziland. Without the research and evidence to back up the positive outcomes observed by SWAGAA staff, like Sakhile, it will be challenging to convince policy-makers how critical this curriculum is to reducing gender-based violence by increasing girls’ agency.
Though the EGHW project is a girl-centred initiative, part of the research includes a sub-study that engages boys through SWAGAA’s Boys for Change Clubs, which were expressly designed for this study.
The Boys for Change Clubs explore how boys encounter violence in their own lives and what impact this violence may have on the lives of girls. Increasing gender equality and reducing gender-based violence by changing gender norms is a central objective of the complimentary Boys for Changes Clubs.
Our clubs are facilitated by mentors who were trained by SWAGAA last January. These youths are looking to make a difference in their communities, promote gender equality and dispel the harmful gender stereotypes and norms that fuel gender-based violence in Swaziland. They are change-makers that are boldly speaking out against many destructive cultural practices that are still very present in everyday Swazi life.