Foundation for Civic Education and Social Empowerment (FOCESE)
FOCESE is the young women led youth organisation based at Balaka Boma in Malawi. It was established by young women who got pressured to be married whilst children and some who are still teen mothers with the main purpose of ending sexual violence among the girls from the rural areas in Malawi. FOCESE exists “to create a better society for the rural adolescent young people especially girls at grass root level in Malawi”. Their vision is: “Every rural young woman and girl is safe, powerful, heard and takes necessary steps to fight for the rights of other vulnerable young women and girls.” FOCESE works to eliminate gender violence, stereotypes and stigma through advocacy. Working with law makers, government and village heads, they seek to change the social and cultural norms that cause gender based violence, particularly child marriage.
The group has carried out successful advocacy efforts in some villages in Balaka that have helped formulate anti-child marriage by-laws in the region.Through these advocacy efforts, they have created a platform for girls who are victims of sexual violence, married girls, teen mothers, disabled girls, girls from child headed families and also HIV positive boys and girls to face duty bearers especially Members of Parliament from Balaka District, Government Officials, Village and Religious heads and demand for proper strategies aimed at protecting girl child from sexual violence including elimination of bad cultures that are fuelling child marriages, increasing HIV/AIDS among girls.
By including the voices of girls and young women in community forums, FOCESE prevents child marriages and raises awareness of gender and sexual cleansing/cultural sexual issues in Balaka and Nsanje districts. In addition to their advocacy work, FOCESE provide economic opportunities for girls and young women to address the existing inequalities widespread in rural areas. Furthermore, FOCESE promotes rights of female sex workers.