Tithetse Nkhanza!
Malawi Violence Against Women and Girls Prevention and Response Programme

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is one of the most systematic and widespread human rights violations and affects 818 million women and girls worldwide.

The Malawi Violence Against Women and Girls Prevention and Response Programme – also known as Tithetse Nkhanza (Let’s End Violence in Chichewa) – aimed to reduce the prevalence of VAWG and improve the justice system for women and girls living with violence in Malawi. It was a two and a half year learning and adaptation programme funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. We started delivering it in November 2018 with consortium partners Social Development Direct and Plan International.

During implementation of Tithetse Nkhanza, the programme team worked towards achieving five key outputs:

  • That formal and informal justice services handle VAWG cases in line with protocols and laws.
  • That men and women duty bearers have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to prevent and respond to VAWG.
  • To establish or strengthen local level mechanisms in place in target areas to support VAWG survivors to access justice and related support services.
  • To give men and women, boys and girls the knowledge, skills and attitudes to prevent and respond to VAWG.
  • To improve evidence and communications on what works to prevent and respond to VAWG in Malawi.

Working at national, district and community levels, our team delivered context-specific interventions, related to both VAWG Prevention and VAWG Response, and built in adaptation as we learnt. Tithetse Nkhanza worked in three districts, Mangochi, Karonga and Lilongwe and in 12 targeted Traditional Authorities – four in each of the districts.

Some of the programme’s key highlights included:

  • Tithetse Nkhanza established itself as a key actor within the VAWG space through targeted national advocacy and influencing, which helped to advance the conversation on VAWG prevention and response with key duty bearers and decision makers.
  • Tithetse Nkhanza’s Technical Legal Advisor achieved numerous successes, supporting the Malawi Judiciary on a broad range of issues relating to VAWG and access to justice. This included fast-tracking 24 VAWG cases, developing guidelines for and producing a handbook on VAWG case handling and management, and incorporating a Survivor Rights Charter into the Judiciary’s Service Charter.
  • The Survivor Support Fund assisted 593 survivors via Women’s Rights Organisations, demonstrating the success of this innovative intervention which supported and accompanied survivors to access support services.
  • The Strategic Opportunities Fund resulted in 10 institution-driven strategic partnerships to address emerging barriers to effective and efficient justice service provision, complementing the programme’s broader work.
  • The programme reached a broader range of participants and beneficiaries through proactive consideration of disability inclusion and disaggregation of data, in line with a ‘leave no one behind’ approach.
  • The team was able to provide insights into experiences of VAWG, gendered social norms and help-seeking in Malawi, by drawing from rich data from formative research, baseline studies on the prevention interventions, and two baseline cohort studies.



Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UK

Learning products

Tithetse Nkhanza produced a large number of learning and reference products throughout its lifetime, providing lessons and transferrable information for other VAWG programmes in the region and the wider community of practice. These products – covering Research and Mapping, Tools, manuals and training, Practice-based lessons, and Programme strategies – can be found below.

Research and mapping

Research conducted by the Tithetse Nkhanza programme in three districts in Malawi since July 2019 has found that rates of violence against women and girls (VAWG) are significantly higher than the global average.

This policy brief presents the key findings of that formative and baseline research conducted on VAWG in Malawi. It identifies which groups of women and girls are more at risk of violence, what types of violence are more common in Malawi and what are its main drivers. The brief also highlights the social norms that have been used to justify various forms of VAWG and includes a qualitative study to better understand the underlying norms, attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence arising or prevent help-seeking within the target communities.

This Gender, Inclusion, Power and Politics (GIPP) research report examines the impact of the 2020 Presidential election and of COVID-19 on the operating environment in Malawi.

The report focuses in particular on the effects of these events on the programme’s work on violence against women and girls prevention and response.

This is a rapid review of disability-inclusive Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) programming in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The review was produced under Tithetse Nkhanza! (TN), a UK government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)-funded VAWG Prevention and Response programme in Malawi, which has chosen to prioritise disability inclusion in its Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Strategy.

The purpose of this review is to assess the programming landscape on disability-inclusive VAWG programming to identify any promising practice and to locate the Tithetse Nkhanza! programme within this context. The review also examines evidence on disability inclusion in VAWG interventions during crises which may be applicable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It will be followed by a short summary and recommendations paper for the TN programme, based on this literature review and discussions with Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) in the context of the COVID-19 crisis in Malawi.

Tithetse Nkhanza is piloting and evaluating prevention interventions with the potential for scale up. One of these prevention models is Champions of Change, an approach developed by Plan International, which is a part of the programme consortium with Tetra Tech International Development and Social Development Direct. Champions of Change aims to promote positive changes in gender attitudes and behaviours and healthy relationships among adolescents, and is being implemented in three districts in Malawi.

This document presents a snapshot of findings from the baseline study from the Champions of Change cohort study in Malawi. This study was implemented by the Tithetse Nkhanza Programme with the Centre for Social Research, supported by the UK government.

This document presents a snapshot of findings from the baseline study for the Moyo Olemekezeka (MO) intervention, a social and economic empowerment model designed to address intimate partner violence. The study aimed to provide a baseline for the MO intervention, with the ultimate goal of understanding whether and how the lives of individuals participating directly in MO activities had changed as a result of the intervention.

Tools, manuals and training

This Technical Briefing Note provides a short introductory explanation to the Safeguarding Complaints Mechanism Knowledge Survey, designed and implemented by Tithetse Nkhanza.

This technical briefing note looks at measuring the attendance of people with disabilities in community engagement activities for a VAWG programme.

This Technical Briefing Note provides an overview of the Survivor Satisfaction Survey designed by Tithetse Nkhanza (TN). Survivors of violence, particularly those who seek services, are generally a difficult population to reach, and conducting research on this group is ethically complex. This brief presents an approach to gathering feedback on the experiences of this group, supporting the larger aim of understanding, measuring, and improving response services, particularly in Malawi. This brief was produced in line with TN’s larger commitment to disseminate research approaches and findings, and contribute to the Community of Practice on VAWG. The thinking behind the survey design may be helpful to those seeking to implement a similar survey.

Tithetse Nkhanza has developed accessible posters displaying the key information for women, girls and community members on what services are available to VAWG survivors and how they may access them. These posters have been designed to be accessible to people with disabilities and low literate audiences, so it is important that they are well-presented and a discussion is facilitated, such that they are well understood.

The set of four posters along with the facilitator guidance note below form a ‘ready to use’ orientation package which can be used by any programme or organisation who wants to mainstream gender equality, social inclusion, and VAWG response into their activities.



The Facilitators Notes seek to provide clear guidelines on how to present the posters to meet these aims. The notes are intended for use by anyone working in community development or humanitarian response in Malawi who wants to ensure that their team members or programme participants are aware of how and where to report violence or seek support if they or someone else experiences it.

Practice-based lessons

In February 2021, the Tithetse Nkhanza team came together (virtually) to review the programme’s Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Strategy and embark upon the journey of turning what is on paper into practice. In this blog, members of the Tithetse Nkhanza team reflect on the process of integrating GESI into the programme and why it has been important, unpacking the difference it has made and reflecting on what we have learnt so far.

These lessons will be relevant to standalone programmes addressing VAWG, women’s rights, and gender equality, but also to any sectoral programmes committed to ensuring impact for socially excluded groups and addressing the root causes of social issues by tackling unequal distribution of power.

Lack of enforcement of child maintenance orders is currently one of the most prevalent and systemic challenges in accessing justice for many adolescent girls and women who are mothers. Abusive former partners often use failures of child maintenance enforcement as a weapon in post-separation control and economic abuse. Research on economic violence largely focuses on cohabiting couples, but there are limited detailed explorations of women’s longer-term experiences after separation. Economic abuse is a widespread element of intimate partner violence. Failures to effectively enforce child maintenance orders normalises the potential for post-separation economic abuse.

This research therefore intends to unpack the intersectionality between intimate partner violence and child support as an important, yet often overlooked prognosis. More pragmatically, this research responds to a call made to Tithetse Nkhanza’s Technical Legal Advisor by the Malawi Judiciary to undertake an analysis of best practices to inform the better enforcement of child maintenance orders by the Courts – both as an end in itself but also as a means to lessen the prevalence of economic violence on women who often shoulder the primary responsibility of child care.

This paper discusses the lessons learnt from implementing the Tithetse Nkhanza (TN) Programme’s national influencing interventions: the Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF) and the CSO-led National Advocacy Strategy on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), which was spearheaded by the programme. The paper looks at how these interventions contributed to an improvement in both formal and informal justice services in terms of accessibility, responsiveness, and accountability, and what can be learnt in terms of the design, relevance, suitability and utility of these interventions. Furthermore, the paper discusses the effectiveness of linking local engagement to national level change and vice versa, in order to influence the whole Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) ecosystem and build a movement for change.

The Tithetse Nkhanza programme placed a Technical Legal Advisor (TLA) in the Malawi Judiciary whose role was to support the Judiciary on a broad range of issues relating to VAWG and access to justice. This learning product sets out the lessons learned from this model of embedding an advisor within an institution.

The Survivor Support Fund was a community-level mechanism that aimed to increase access to response services for VAWG survivors by addressing physical and cost barriers to justice, health and psychosocial facilities. This briefing note shares lessons garnered from Tithetse Nkhanza’s implementation of the Survivor Support Fund in Malawi. It seeks to provide actors operating in VAWG prevention and response with recommendations to consider in the design of such an intervention, should others be interested in implementing a similar approach in Malawi or elsewhere.

This learning brief shares the adaptation process that the Tithetse Nkhanza programme undertook to adapt a combined social and economic empowerment model, proven to reduce intimate partner violence in other contexts, to Malawi. The adapted model is called Moyo Olemekezeka, or Living With Dignity, and was adapted from the Zindagii Shoista model, which was successfully implemented in Nepal and Tajikistan.

Champions of Change (CoC) was selected as one of TN’s three VAWG prevention interventions, implemented in TN’s three impact districts of Karonga, Mangochi and Lilongwe. This learning brief documents how CoC was adapted to reflect its focus on violence and harmful practices, as well as to improve its relevance to specific areas in which it was implemented.

Programme strategies

The Tithetse Nkhanza Programme is committed to being gender transformative and to leaving no one behind. Our overarching, cross-programme Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Strategy exists to ensure we are systematic and pragmatic about embedding this ambition, and that we can track our progress. This strategy provides a guiding framework throughout the lifespan of the programme setting out what we want to achieve on gender equality and social inclusion and how this will continue to be done. It will be informed by the programme principles, team values, and data and analysis being collected by the programme and evaluation teams.