The Government of Malawi led the implementation of the Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) in 2013, and launched the report in 2015. The government also published a report on its priority responses.
The Ministry of Gender Children, Disability, and Social Welfare coordinated the implementation of the VACS with support from PEPFAR, FCDO, and UNICEF.
To prepare for the VACS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics — in partnership with the University of Malawi Center for Social Research — implemented a cognitive laboratory study of the VACS survey instrument to inform adaptation of the questionnaire to the local context.
UNICEF Malawi and the Center for Social Research conducted a qualitative study to further inform the national quantitative study.
The Malawi government developed the National Plan of Action (NPA) for Vulnerable Children 2015–2019 to build on the findings of the impact evaluation of the previous NPA for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC) (2005 – 2009, extended to 2011) and the OVC Situation Analysis conducted in 2013.
This National Plan of Action against gender-based violence is a statement of government priority actions to address gender-based violence in Malawi over a five-year period (2014-2020). Of particular concern is the consistent prevalence and the high level of non-disclosure or non-reporting of incidences of gender-based violence with particular reference to women and children.
VACS completed, implementing response
The data presented in the VACS provides a strong foundation for the development of prevention and response strategies in Malawi. Key strategies include:
Training and home visitation programs provide practical skills for parents to manage the stress of childrearing, while also identifying potential areas for education and social support.
Pro-social skills provide children with the means to manage anger and conflict in relationships. Such programs can be implemented through the full school cycle, including preschool and afterschool programs.
Stigma around violent victimization prevents survivors of violence (or those vulnerable to violence) from seeking care and support. Strengthening systems of support and normalizing careseeking can reduce violence and increase service uptake. Strategies to identify and refer victims, health provider training, child advocacy programs, and provision of mental health services are all essential elements in reducing violence in Malawi.
Gender stereotypes increase women’s vulnerability while reducing their ability to seek services for harm. Programs to address gender inequality can be situated in schools, in communities, and in public education initiatives. Additionally, programs that increase women’s access to education, employment, and services can also reduce their vulnerability.
Acceptability of violence is a barrier to child protection. In-school programs and public education initiatives can be utilized to change norms around the use of violence. Policies that increase accountability can also help reduce violence.