In Southern Africa, IM works together with partners in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland (Eswatini). In these countries a large part of the population lives in extreme poverty. In addition, the countries are still suffering the effects by the HIV and Aids epidemic in the 1990s which has left a very young population.
IM’s work in Southern Africa focuses on social and economic inclusion, civil society and capacity development programming. Besides the country focused programs in the four countries, IM further implements two regional programs.
The first regional program is on Influencing SADC and the African Union to take action to end child marriage. The program aims at strengthening accountability in ending child marriage in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region, with specific attention to member countries where IM works.
The program is premised on the fact that Sub-Saharan African countries have young populations, but also burdened with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, with almost 40% of children (in some SADC countries) getting married off before they reach the age of 18 years.
The program is based on the African Union (AU) and SADC commitments to end child marriage, as provided in the African Children’s Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Maputo Protocol). It builds on the May 2014 AU launch of a campaign to end child marriage, which has since been extended to run until 2023. It also builds on the 2015 AU adopted Africa Common Position to ending child marriage.
The program is being implemented by four agreement partners from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe; namely Women’s Legal Resource Centre, NGO Coordinating Council, Justice for Children and the Rozaria Memorial Trust. The program further enjoys Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE – Africa) leverage support and closer links with the AU campaign on ending child marriage.
IM coordinates the implementation of the program through the established Regional Advisory and Advocacy Group (RAAG), which is instrumental in providing strategic guidance on regional approaches and strategies that have the potential to register impact on IM’s efforts in ending child marriage.
The second regional program is Ensured space for Civil Society in Southern Africa. The program is a multi-country peer learning platform, designed to help CSOs effectively respond to issues of shrinking civic engagement spaces at different levels.
The program capacitates a group of core CSOs in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and eSwatini and other partner CSOs, through a multi-country peer learning approach, to reclaim their assured civic space; and it also ensures the inclusion and rights enjoyment of the excluded members of the society.
The program enjoys the leveraging support of CIVICUS, Forum Syd and Southern Africa Peoples Solidarity Network (SAPSN). It is premised on achieving improved CSO practices as change agents; enhanced CSO ability to respond to civic space emergency and agency; strong CSO ability to respond to democratic deficits and rights holders’ violations; and enhanced role of CSOs as thought leaders and the voice of the voiceless.