Capacity Building with Trocaire Organisations in Malawi

From 27 February – 2 March 2012, Sonke Gender Justice successfully conducted an Organisational Capacity Assessment Audit to four Trocaire-Malawi partner organisations.

This five day visit reviewed existing capacity and gaps on understanding of gender, masculinities and engaging men in each of the local partner organisations by spending time with management and staff by doing some of the following:

  1. Conducting a capacity assessment audit;
  2. Holding informal Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with management, staff and programme beneficiaries at each organisation;
  3. Contacting women’s rights organisations to seek their input; and
  4. Observing an ‘activity with men’. (Particularly ‘Man to Man’ Clubs community discussions)

Trocaire provides funding to selected organisations to implement various activities in different communities in Lilongwe. The organisations under appraisal include Society for Women and AIDS in Malawi (SWAM), Coalition of Women Against HIV and AIDS (COWHLA), Catholic Commission on Justice and Peace (CCJP) and Malawi Interfaith Aids Association (MIAA).

MIAA and CCJP work on cultural and religious dynamics that underpin gender inequality and HIV infection, and SWAM and COWHLA work with the Societies Tackling AIDS through Rights (STAR) methodology: ‘a participatory approach for community mobilization, empowerment and response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic’. It focuses on reflection, analysis, planning and joint action and works through a trifocal lens of human rights, gender and HIV.


Trocaire is an Irish development agency working in 27 countries worldwide on both long-term development and emergency responses. Trocaire works in partnership with local civil society organizations implementing programmes broadly aimed at achieving social justice at local and global levels. Trocaire has been supporting development partners in Malawi since 1976 and opened an office in Lilongwe in October 2007. Trocaire opened a Gender and HIV Programme in Malawi in 2010 following a scoping of existing gender and HIV programming in Malawi in which 106 stakeholders were surveyed. Gaps identified included engaging men, exploring masculinities, engaging with traditional and religious leaders. It was also learned that there is a need for a more sophisticated understanding of the cultural dynamics that affect gendered vulnerabilities to HIV The key problem the programme aims to address is gender inequality as a driver of HIV vulnerability. The interventions aim to explore women’s vulnerability to HIV and AIDS and promote gender equality through a focus on culture, engaging men and the social empowerment of women.