Elizabeth, 17 years, Malawi
Elizabeth, 17 years, comes from a tobacco growing district in central Malawi. In this rural community, poverty has driven many girls and women to turn to transactional sex to keep themselves and their families afloat. One of Elizabeth’s own former school mates was a young girl from a poor family who could not afford to continue sending her to school. The girl practised transactional sex to try and earn the money but fell pregnant, acquired an STI, was then expelled from school.
In other communities across Malawi, other forms of transactional sex are becoming more and more prevalent. With rising unemployment, young girls find themselves doing whatever it takes to get a paid job. Referred to locally as ‘carpet interviews’, young girls are asked to perform sexual favours by prospective employers in return for employment.
“Women are not allowed to speak, or have their say in Malawi,” says Elizabeth, “They have to suffer in silence.”
Elizabeth has been involved in Plan’s Youth Governance programmes for the last 3 years (PPA1 and PPA1) which has enabled her to lobby for girls rights among decision makers in her community and policy makers in her district. She has achieved the Malawi School Certificate of Education and is a representative of her District’s Youth Network in Malawi.