Zathu: bridging the gender divide in Malawi through friendship

Made with and for young people, Zathu (zɑ-tu) is a youth brand built for both girls and boys

Through the power of storytelling, Malawi's first youth brand is educating, engaging and inspiring young people, reflecting the realities of growing up in Malawi.

Rooted in local culture, Zathu - 'ours' in Chichewa - uses the influence of music, radio and drama to show positive platonic relationships, championing self-expression and challenging stereotypical gender roles.

Using storylines that resonate with Malawian girls and boys: from relationships to confidence, friendships to sexual reproductive health, Zathu is increasing the perceived value of girls - both to girls themselves, and those around them.

"We're so excited to be partnering with Girl Effect as part of the DREAMS public/private partnership. Encouraging relationships that are based on friendship between girls and boys, rather than sexuality, is a genuinely groundbreaking approach to tackling the risks facing adolescent girls."

- Ambassador Birx, the United States Global AIDS Coordinator

50 %
of girls are married by their 18th birthday*
13 %
of women live with HIV, compared to 8% of men
8 :1
is the ratio of 15-year-old girls with HIV infection compared to boys

A new sound for Malawi

Meet the characters of Zathu – Girl Effect’s first mixed-gender brand.

Zathu: closing the gender gap in Malawi

Zathu is a Malawian youth brand, built to unite girls and boys. Using music, radio and drama, and working with PEPFAR DREAMS partners, Zathu unlocks the power of friendship to prevent the spread of HIV, breaking down barriers that aren't just holding girls back but boys too. 

*In February 2017, Malawi Parliament amended the Constitution and raised the age of marriage from 15 (with parental consent) to 18 years old for boys and girls

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