By A Correspondent- Addressing delegates at the International Day of the Girl Child in Harare recently, Women’s Advocacy Project Director Constance Mugari called for greater investments aimed at improving girls’ education, skills, and job prospects.
Mugari said this at an event attended by hundreds of girls from Harare held under the theme ” GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.”
“We stress the importance of creating opportunities and safe spaces for girls’ voices to be heard and listened to in decisions that affect them.
More attention should be given to girls’ education and providing them with the relevant job skills and training. :
According to UNICEF, UNFPA and the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) one third of all girls in Zimbabwe marry before the age of 18.
Statistics show that approximately 500,000 teenagers fall pregnant every year in Zimbabwe, with 19 percent of the pregnancies in this group a result of child marriages. 48 percent of adolescents confirmed that the pregnancies were unplanned.”
Mugari said adolescent pregnancy remained a major challenge and contributor to maternal and child mortality and the vicious circle of ill-health and poverty particularly in Zimbabwe.
“Poverty remains a key driver of child marriage, and girls from poor families are more likely to become child brides than those from wealthier households.
If we really want to tackle poverty and end child marriage we must give all girls the tools they need to invest in themselves.
That means providing them with the quality education and training they need to earn an income and create a better future for themselves and their family.”
She said evidence showed that girls who attend secondary school are three times less likely to be child brides.
“They also have better economic prospects, fewer and healthier children, and are more likely to ensure that their own children are not married before 18,” added Mugari.
Speaking at the same event, the Provincial head in the ministry of women affairs, Ernest Chimboza said government prioritised the elimination of all forms of gender based violence against women and girls as a way of ensuring the realisation of sustainable development goals 3 and 5.
“Violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive and hidden human rights violation in Zimbabwe. It has hindered them from realising their full potential and to have a voice, choice and control over their lives.
The elimination of all forms of GBV is essential for Zimbabwe to achieve two of its prioritised SDGs 3 and 5 which speak to achieving gender equality, empowerment and the promotion of a health life and their well being.
The ministry and its partners believe that promoting girls access to education, primary health care and basic human needs is critical for their empowerment and for the achievement of gender equality and eduity.. Promoting girls access to education is vital because they have been sidelined with preference being given to boys in some families.”
WAP is a non governmental not for profit making trust which was established by a group of women from different communities in Harare.
The organisation aims at promoting and projecting the rights of vulnerable and marginalised women and girls from communities in and around Harare.