Women entrepreneurship in the country has received a boost after the Nepad-Spanish Fund has provided 166 000 euros (K76 million) for construction of two girlsâ€™ hostels at two vocational institutions.
The project is aimed at absorbing more girls into vocational skills to empower them to become independent.
Construction has already started at Evangelical Vocational Training Institute (EVTI) and Stephanos Vocational Training Centre (SVTC) in Blantyre with each institution getting one hostel.
Nepad-Spanish Fund projects manager for Anglophone countries, Justina Dugbazah, led the groundbreaking ceremony at both institutions last week.
Said Dugbazah: â€œWe have provided 83 000 Euros for each institution for the construction of a girlâ€™s hostel. We received 685 proposals in May 2011 and one from Young Enterprises was among the 32 that we funded.
â€œWe saw that it was viable because it was about women empowerment. Girl education is very important. One thing that keeps girls away from school is lack of conducive environment; hence, the construction of the hostels will encourage girls to come for vocational education.â€
The new hostels will increase intake of girls from 10 to 24 for each institution and will open doors in January.
SVTC principal Edward Koloviko said life is difficult for the girls without a hostel.
â€œThey rent in places around the centre and most of the houses are grass-thatched with poor ventilation. Their houses are near drinking joints which disturbs the girls. Chances of being raped are high. There is no running water and they have to scramble for a borehole with villagers or get water from a swamp,â€ said Koloviko.
Koloviko said despite the new hostel, accommodation problems will persist because the hostel will only absorb 24 girls when the enrolment goes up to 70 girls at Stephanos only.
Madalitso Gomiwa, a third-year electrical installation student, said, without proper accommodation, girls at Stephanos go through hell.
â€œWe rent around the school and our houses have no power, water or security. The coming of the hostels will improve things,â€ said Gomiwa.
Young Enterprises centre manager Boniface Mbundungu said he sent a proposal to Nepad-Spanish Fund for girlsâ€™ hostels to give economic empowerment to girls.
â€œWe want more girls to acquire vocational skills and later go into business and employ others as well. We also act as collateral for the girls to get loans from Inde Fund,â€ said Mbundungu.