Lilongwe — Women make up a total of 49.9 percent of Malawi's population and over 70 percent of this composition falls within the dependency ratio of population (not working and not involved in any income generating activity).
Their survival means is secondary, mainly through their spouses in case of those who are married and from guardians for other dependents.
In most cases, this group is more vulnerable mainly owing to their weak financial status and usually on the receiving end of a number of injustices. But because of their lack of economic independence, they continue to suffer in silence.
Lives of 210 women, spouses of Police officers from Police Headquarters in Area 30, are about to change for the better following a training in vocational and entrepreneurial skills that they will receive from the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education Training Authority (TEVETA).
The training, which is expected to uplift the women economically, is coming alongside a donation of 20 sewing machines, cloth and other related materials amounting to MK4 million which will act as a starter pack for their venture.
"We cannot deny that our liberties in many fronts as women are so limited in our homesteads because we are not working or involved in any income generating activity. And the burden that we place on our husbands becomes too much as well," said Ruth Kachama, matron of the Police women grouping.
She said the challenges that women face propelled them to approach TEVETA in their quest to seek economic empowerment through acquisition of skills that will enable them become productive on their own.
"There are so many realities in life that we cannot run away from, like the death of one's' husband.
Times become even harder for women and children who are left behind when the bread winner is gone.
"But once we are equipped with such skills that we can fend a little something for ourselves, we will lessen the pain and troubles that befall us as women once our spouses are gone," Kachama said.
She said although such initiatives may look small on face value, but if a sound market structure can be identified for the products, it will not only benefit the women involved but the proceeds can have an impact on the country's economy as well.
"Elsewhere, such kind of initiatives by women has produced big results and their contribution to the country's economies has been so huge. We hope that TEVEYA will help us in identifying markets for what we will produce from this enterprise," she said.
The women from Area 30 Police will join other 2,022 women who have been trained by TEVETA in the past three years in various vocational fields as part of their interventions on skills development under their programming.
In 2013/14 a total of 680 women were trained, followed by 560 women in 2015/16 and in 2016/17, women totaling 782 received training. The women from Area 30 Police will become the 13th women group to be trained in the central region alone.
Regional service centre manager for TEVETA Victor Luwambala said most of their programmes are demand driven and the women from Area 30 will benefit from the authority because they expressed interest to learn from their skills development initiative.
"We actually reach out to people that are in need of skills development for their own survival, whether as groups or individuals. Through that window we work with interested groups, it could be women, youths and men as long as they have a vision on how the skills acquired will be useful to them," Luwambala said.
He said the trainings that they offer through their various interventions are specifically for empowerment and are tailored according to the demands of those who need them.
"There are two avenues, there could be some ladies who are already in business, and we also work with them to actually improve their skills so that they can maximize their income. But we also work with those who are just getting their enterprises off the ground to help them to get skills they can use," he said.
When TEVETA was approached by the women from Area 30 requesting the training, they did not need any more motivation to come in and help.
"Most women did not go far with education and as they live in communities, they have very limited alternatives for survival. We have actually taken it upon ourselves to work with such groups within our communities to ensure that we impart them with required skills for use in earning a living, in the process improving their own wellbeing," he said.
Luwambala said his organization has also been encouraged with the increasing number of females who are now accessing technical training, which is an improvement of how the situation was like ten years ago.
"A lot of women and girls viewed TEVET as a men's domain but with a lot of sensitization the numbers are picking up. This is a good development because women make up a greater proportion of our population and their empowerment can easily translate into improved incomes in families," he said.
The training which the women from Area 30 are set to receive has a number of components and it will be delivered by a number of trainers in different phases.