Umunthu Plus Initiative
Umunthu Plus Initiative is a Malawian non-governmental organization that works on children and womens’ rights, gender-based violence, and public health issues by providing direct services and financial support to victims and raising awareness among community members. The organization earns more than half of its income from sponsored programs and advertisements run on its radio station, Umunthu Community Radio Station. Umunthu Plus raises awareness on gender-based violence and public health issues through the radio station, and it uses the generated funds to host grassroots programs and workshops. It also provides victim support, scholarships, and humanitarian assistance. Umunthu Plus is largely run by volunteers and has a majority female board that pays annual membership fees, which also help fund its operations and programs.
Through the Umunthu Plus Community Radio Station, Umunthu Plus worked to educate the public and combat misinformation about the pandemic. The organization also provided personal protective equipment and transportation and created washing facilities to ensure that community members and health care workers had proper resources.
Theory of Change
Providing psychosocial and economic resources to vulnerable groups, raising awareness, and building community-based support systems helps to combat violence and create a more inclusive and healthy society.
Umunthu Plus provides victims of gender-based violence with psychosocial and economic support to help them recover and gain independence. Through the “skills for her” initiative, Umunthu Plus provides women with the training and equipment they need to scale their small businesses and become financially independent. Umunthu Plus also partners with local courts on bringing mobile courts to remote areas and helping victims seek justice. In addition, Umunthu Plus works closely with police, social welfare offices, and other government entities to educate community members about gender-based violence. Umunthu Plus also utilizes its radio station to share information about sexual reproductive rights and raise awareness on gender based violence. Umunthu Plus aims to address poverty and gender inequality by providing scholarships and networks for girls who leave forced marriages, as well as vocational training programs for girls who dropped out of school. Umunthu Plus also has an initiative that empowers women to take up roles in local politics and a program that focuses on educating and involving men and boys to combat gender inequality. Umunthu Plus conducts workshops to address public health issues and educate community members on sexual reproductive rights. The organization also provides humanitarian aid and donations to communities and hospitals affected by natural disasters or public health issues. Other initiatives include providing loans for sex workers living with HIV to support their personal and household income, engaging with community members to safeguard at-risk populations, and organizing workshops on land registrations to increase economic opportunities.
In 2022, Umunthu Plus successfully reached over 20,000 people through its campaigns, supported 120 victims in accessing justice through 10 mobile courts, and trained over 40 women and girls in gender rights. Through its educational programs, Umunthu Plus provided learning material and nutritional support to over 400 children. Moreover, in 2022, Umunthu provided equipment to assist over 140 female students and 30 mothers in producing reusable sanitary pads for three schools, donated 80 desks to schools, and renovated over 18 washrooms to improve sexual reproductive health. In the future, Umunthu Plus plans to build a school where they can enroll girls who escaped forced marriages. Umunthu Plus has already secured stationery and desks from partnering organizations for the school, and further funding will be secured from tuition paid by other students. For its public health efforts, Umunthu Plus provided over 580 individuals with HIV tests and provided referrals to those that tested positive. Umunthu Plus also launched HIV/AIDs awareness campaigns that reached over 14,400 young Malawians. The organizations’ unique and tailored programs have led to indirect benefits. For example, Umunthu Plus provided solar energy to a barber shop business owned by disabled gender-based violence victims. This not only helped increase the womens’ income but also helped the barber shop become an important site for young girls to study at night since there was limited electricity in rural areas. Given the impact of their work, Umunthu Plus has successfully partnered with UN Women, UNFPA, and other international organizations to address human rights issues. This includes funding, volunteers, and program support. Umunthu Plus has also won seats in many networks of NGOs.