Project Factsheet
Tools for » Malawi Spotlight Country Programme
Project ID:00111640Description:Malawi Spotlight Programme
Spotlight Initiative Fund
Start Date *: 24 Aug 2018
End Date*: 31 Dec 2022
Country: Malawi Project Status: On Going
  Participating Organization:   Multiple

Programme Description

Malawi is home to 18.1 million people, 70 per cent of whom are under the age of 30. Despite some recent progress, high levels of gender inequality persist. Access to comprehensive reproductive health services is limited, and women’s empowerment and economic participation is low. Malawi ranks 145th of 188 countries on the Gender Inequality Index. Forty-two per cent of girls are married before age 18, and 38 per cent of women and girls have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.

In Malawi, the Spotlight Initiative will invest in a comprehensive prevention strategy that addresses structural issues and linkages to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The programme will enhance ongoing efforts to capitalize on lessons learned and harmonize the activities of the UN and other development partners.

The programme will also ensure women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination play a key role in the development, design and implementation of all aspects of the Initiative.

Number of beneficiaries: 290,470 (direct) | 3,594,775 (indirect).

Recipient UN organizations: UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women and UNFPA.


Spotlight Country Programme Focal Point at the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office: Teemar Kidane; Email: Max Bonnel; Email:


The total investment from the EU for Phase I (2019 – 2020) and Phase II (2021-2022) is USD 28,571,429 and is distributed according to the following;

  • Policies and legislation (outcome 1): The programme will review specific policies and laws such as the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right Policy, the Child Policy and the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and advocate legislative reforms to raise the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18.
  •  Institutions (outcome 2): Key national and local institutions, such as the Malawi Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman, will receive support to deliver evidence-based programmes that prevent and respond to violence against women and girls and harmful practices. Local districts will be linked with survivors’ and women's networks to integrate the needs of marginalized women and girls in development plans.
  •  Prevention and social norms (outcome 3): The programme will focus on strategic interventions to prevent harmful practices and transform gender social norms that perpetrate violence against women and girls, e.g. by providing comprehensive sexuality education and scaling up the successful ‘safe-schools’ model, which includes girls’ empowerment and boys’ transformation programmes to change behaviours. Interventions will also invest in scholarships for girls and establish girls-only hostels and toilets to reduce school dropout rates and promote girls’ education, menstrual health and hygiene.
  • Services (outcome 4): The largest investment of the programme will be focused on ensuing women and girls at risk of violence can access quality, and integrated essential health services. Including sexual and reproductive health and rights, access to justice, prosecution, and psychosocial support. Safe spaces for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and victim support units that provide emergency accommodation are services will be established. Mobile outreach services – including village mediators and mobile courts – will be set up to travel to hard-to-reach communities.
  •  Data (outcome 5): The programme will collect, analyze and use high-quality, disaggregated and globally-comparable data on different forms of violence against women and girls and harmful practices. A new national observatory hub will serve as data repository to monitor trends on sexual reproductive health and patterns of violence in the six targeted districts. The programme will also assess, monitor and advocate for the registration of children under the age of 16 to track and prevent child marriages.
  •  Women’s movement and civil society (outcome 6): Women and youth-serving civil society organizations will be supported to effectively influence and advance progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Investments will be made to improve capacity (e.g. around monitoring and evaluation) and to promote the development of social accountability mechanisms for sexual and gender-based violence, harmful practices and sexual reproductive health through community scorecards, opinion polls, and grievance and redress structures.


Innovations in programme


  1. Interactive engagement: Programming will include development of animations and mobile-friendly social video content to increase public awareness on gender and violence-related laws and policies. The Initiative will support the live streaming and podcasting of public litigation cases, support tertiary institutions to increase understanding of laws and policies through moot courts, and engage with students to test the laws and research the work of other jurisdictions. Online platforms such as the Women’s Empowerment Programme (WEP) and the information and communications technology (ICT) based GBV-reporting platform will be leveraged.
  2. Big data: Comprehensive data on youth knowledge and attitudes on gender will be collected via U-Report, an SMS-based mobile platform designed for young people to have their voices heard on issues that affect them.
  3. Reaching the ‘furthest behind first’ for services: Most rural areas have no formal courts and in areas where courts exist, they are poorly resourced and not mandated to handle a range of cases, including case abuse and rape cases. The long distance to formal courts normally based at district headquarters poses a great challenge to most women and girls, given the unbearable financial costs. To improve access to formal justice, particularly for victims in hard-to-reach areas, the programme will integrate mobile courts as part of the essential services package. Local village mediators will be utilized to facilitate more victims report their cases.
  4. Mentorship and safe spaces for young women: Many adolescent girls in Malawi lack information about contraceptives and their right to exercise full control over their bodies. Only 14 per cent of adolescents aged 15 to 19 use contraceptives, which is reflected in the high rate of teenage pregnancy (at 29 per cent). The safe spaces will help ensure that responses and prevention measures for violence against women and girls are tailored to address their specific needs. Mentors will be trained to discuss issues such as sexual reproductive health and rights, life-skills, negotiation, leadership, and confidence building.
  5. Improving access and connectivity to the Internet for marginalized rural women and girls: Research shows that the internet can empower women by providing them with an opportunity to connect with people outside their communities. The programme will organize digital literacy training courses and put in place tailored content and peer networks to increase marginalized groups’ internet use. The digital literacy course will follow a model where women work with their peers to help them get connected in order to scale the process of digital literacy.
  6. Shared Operations; The Spotlight Initiative in Malawi will increase efficiencies and value for money through harmonized operations embedded in the delivery mechanism. A hybrid Joint Program Secretariat ideally embedded in government office space will host five staff members drawn from the UN and government. Hosting the team in government is intended to accelerate implementation and quickly identify and address any gaps in implementation. Joint offices will also be piloted at district level. 

Spotlight Job Postings and Consultancies:

No ongoing recruitments. 


Spotlight Calls for Proposals for Implementing Partners:

No ongoing calls.


Recent Documents
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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Malawi or the lead agency for the programme. The MPTF Office Portfolio Manager (or Country Director with Delegation of Authority) for this programme:

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