16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Press Statement

Engaging communities in reducing Violence Against Women and Girls


Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) joins the rest of the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV). This is an annual international campaign that kicks off today, the 25th of November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, VAW), and runs until the 10th of December, (Human Rights Day). This year`s commemorations are running under the global theme, “Orange the world: End Violence Against Women Now”.

This year’s theme emphasizes the urgency of ending GBV and VAW and that can only be achieved when communities collectively work together. This is crucial especially now as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects since 2020. It is vital to emphasize that GBV and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) were a global problem well before the COVID-19 pandemic. For a very long time now, the world has been struggling to end GBV and VAWG in all their manifestations including marital rape, intimate partner violence, child marriages, sexual harassment, virginity testing, genital mutilation, name calling and body-shaming among others. Indeed, GBV and VAWG have been common in our homes, educational institutions, the streets and other public spaces such as recreational centers, workplaces and even churches.

These 16 days provide an opportunity for individuals, government entities and institutions, working towards eliminating GBV and all other forms of VAWG, to accelerate their efforts by jointly reflecting and consolidating past achievements and also mapping the best way forward. It is indeed a time to amplify voices in increasing awareness and stimulating advocacy efforts towards eliminating GBV and VAWG.

As an organisation that has been supporting efforts to eliminate gender disparities in education in Zimbabwe since 1998, FAWEZI continues to complement government efforts in reducing School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV). Through a partnership with ActionAid Zimbabwe, Family Aids Counselling Trust (FACT) and Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ), FAWEZI is raising awareness in schools and communities on reducing and responding to SRGBV, VAWG and VAC. The partnership is under the Towards Resilient Communities with Health, Equity and Safety for all (TORCHES) project.

The project is being implimented in Shamva, Chitungwiza and Nyanga districts. It aims at creating communities where women and girls are free from violence and have amplified voices and agency. The project is using a whole community approach to prevent VAWG and amplify girls’ voices. This approach is using a gender-power analysis through school-based and community mobilisation activities to challenge the root causes of inequality for women and girls, and high rates of VAWG. In engaging the communities, the partners are using the SASA! Together model while the Tuseme/Speak Out girls empowerment model is being used in schools.

SASA! Together is a community mobilisation approach to preventing VAWG and the spread of HIV. This methodology is based on the analysis and understanding of power imbalance as the root cause of VAWG. SASA! Together works through four phases (start, awareness, support, action), and uses a community-led approach to support the whole community to act on VAWG. Currently, the consortium is implementing the Start phase. The Tuseme/Speak out model uses theatre-based approaches to support girls and boys to take action for gender equality and academic development in their schools and communities, as well as encouraging the development of life skills, self-confidence and leadership skills.

As FAWEZI, we celebrate gains achieved so far through our programming and we are committed to continue our work in contributing to the reduction of all forms of VAWG in schools and communities. We also delight in celebrating gains made so far in our nation to eliminate all forms of VAWG. This year, we celebrate the tremendous efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe and several organizations in prioritizing this matter through milestone achievements including, among others:
• A Constitution with elaborate and comprehensive provisions for the right to dignity, personal security and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment (Section 51 and Section 52);
• Adoption of international standards and best practices as provided in international and regional instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Sustainable Development Goals, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa;
• Enactment of the Domestic Violence Act as well as the establishment of the Anti‐ Domestic Violence Council which supports the realization of its mandate and objectives.;
• A National Gender Policy with a dedicated thematic area on Gender Based Violence within schools;
• Education Amendment Act which prohibits corporal punishment and the exclusion of pregnant girls from school in accordance with the Zimbabwe Constitution, and that guarantees the right to education.

While all these steps are indeed progressive and commendable, FAWEZI takes this opportunity to:
• Call upon government to speed up the enactment of a comprehensive legislative framework to deal with SGBV in general, and sexual harassment in particular;
• Call upon government to priorities the implementation of the Education Amendment Act and its alignment [Chapter 25:04] to the Constitution;
• Call upon the judicial system to give punitive and deterrent jail sentences to perpetrators of rape and all other forms of sexual offences including sexual harassment and child marriages, among others;
• Appeal to government and other stakeholders to strengthen GBV response mechanisms such as access to justice, health and psycho-social support;

• Call upon survivors, and the community at large, to speak out and report all forms of GBV to the police and seek medical and emotional support from experts around them.

Dr Ruth Gora
Chairperson

FAWEZI appeals, to all Zimbabweans to follow all health and other guidelines to fight against COVID-19.



International Day of the Girl Child 2021 PRESS STATEMENT

The Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) under the global theme “Digital generation. Our generation.”

 IDGC, is celebrated every year on the 11th of October acknowledging the importance, power, and potential of adolescent girls by encouraging the opening up of more opportunities for them. This year`s theme places an emphasis on leaving no one behind as we move in the digital era. It focuses on the mile stone that girls have achieved while unpacking the limitations in adapting to the digital world.

This year, we celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in penetrating the digital world and flourishing in a rapidly changing, unstable and difficult context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme acknowledges that COVID-19 has had an impact on all aspects of life including the education sector where most of the learning moved digital because of the national restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 virus.

According to UNICEF statistics, even though the pandemic has enhanced digital platforms for learning and connecting for students, some 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 still do not have internet access at home. 

In such circumstances, girls are more likely to be the most disadvantaged. They are less likely to use or own devices and gain access to tech- related skills and jobs. Thus, the gender digital divide continues to increase. Only by addressing the inequity and exclusion that span geographies and generations can we usher in a digital revolution for all, with all. The empowerment of the girl child to the economic growth is as critical as that of boys.

Girls have the potential to change the world if effectively supported during their adolescent years. They have the potential to lead now and contribute positively to the development of communities. They are the future Tech saver of tomorrow who will take up jobs such as architecture, coding, website design as the list is endless. An investment in realizing the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future. One in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability using current technologies.

 

As an organisation that has been supporting efforts to eliminate gender disparities in education in Zimbabwe since 1998, FAWEZI delights in celebrating gains made so far in our nation.  The government of Zimbabwe and several organizations have over the years prioritized closing the digital divide in education. This has been done through building computer labs, installing Wi-Fi and donating computers for learners to use with a more focus on girls. These interventions are dedicated to increasing girls’ education and have produced results despite the COVID-19 pandemic set back.

In observance of the IDGC 2021 under the project titled Towards Resilient Communities with Health, Equity and Safety for all (TORCHES), FAWEZI organized, A girls in the Digital World Symposium for learners from Chitungwiza. This will be an annual event in commemorating IDGC to celebrate gains made from the previous event.  Currently the symposium will engage the Tuseme/ Speak out club members using theatre to unpack issues affecting girls in adapting to e-learning. This project is funded by Action Aid Zimbabwe (AAZ) and implemented in partnership with Family Aids Counselling Trust (FACT) and Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ) in the districts of Shamva, Chitungwiza and Nyanga.

Irene Mkondo

Chairperson

Creating safe spaces for girls during COVID-19

By Michele Munatswa, Information and Communications Officer, Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe (FAWEZI) Chapter

“I had lost all hope as I witnessed my parents fight physically and verbally daily during the COVID19 induced National lockdown with no one to talk to.  I started having nightmares and suffered from depression and to escape my reality l started smoking drugs.  These are the words of sixteen-year-old Natasha (not real name) from a Secondary School in Shamvaistrict.

 

“I am glad schools reopened in August 2021 and I started attending the Tuseme/ Speak out club at our school supported by the Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe (FAWEZI) Chapter where I got to discover that I was not the only one going through cases of domestic violence in my society,” continued Natasha.

 

Natasha is among many girls who have normalized taking drugs as there are many drug selling points in the mining community she is from and there are no restrictions even to children.  People from nearby towns come to sell drugs to the miners thus exposing the children to bad behavior.

 

“It’s easy to access the bronco, glue and what we call mutoriro in my community as drug dealers are flooding the mining community.  Most adults get intoxicated before going to the mine site to work as they say it makes them forget their troubles and gives them a little extra strength to dig as they look for gold,” Narrated Natasha.

 

Natasha said she too would forget her problems soon after talking the drugs.  “The drugs weighed off my problems after taking them, but stress came back again the moment will be sobber,” she added.

Through attending the TUSEME club sessions, Natasha realised that drugs did not provide a permanent solution and she said she has since stopped taking them.

 

During the Tuseme club meetings, girls and boys take time to discuss issues affecting them at home, in the community and even at school.  They try to come up with innovative ideas to solve the problems on their own.  In terms of challenges that the TUSEME club members cannot solve by themselves, the teacher mentors always come in to support the plan of action.

 

“I learnt that if you share with others your problem will be solved.  I have since stopped taking drugs and have resorted to concentrating on my schoolwork.  Through referral to the Department of Social warfare my family received counselling and my father and mother no longer fight in front of us,” stated Natasha.

 

The Tuseme club has served as a safe space for over 350 adolescent girls and boys in 10 project schools in Shamva and Chitungwiza District where issues of confidentiality are prioritized.

The Tuseme club members use theatre-based approaches to express and to take action for gender equality and academic development in their schools and communities. It encourages the development of life skills, self-confidence and leadership skills in all the club members.ost teachers at the project schools applaud the clubs saying they have been helpful in helping learners speak out against challenges they are facing at school.

 

“There has been an increase in reports on violence, and referrals for further assistance at our school, due to the influence of the Tuseme club members,” said Ms. Ernet Tini, a teacher and Tuseme/Speak Out club mentor at Madziwa Mine Secondary School.

 

Tuseme (‘Let Us Speak Out’in Kiswahili) enables female youth empowerment and gender awareness by enhancing girls’ self-esteem, leadership, social and life skills, and promotes a positive attitude amongst boys towards girls’ education.  The model has proven to  Improve girls’ self-esteem and, in their leadership, social and life skills, creates positive teachers’ attitude towards girls and significantly reduce sexual harassment.

he “Towards Resilient Communities with Health, Equity  and Safety for all ( TORCHES) project which is being implemented by FAWEZI in partnership with Action Aid Zimbabwe (AAZ), Family Aids Counselling Trust (FACT) and Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ).  It is  aimed  at creating communities where women and girls are free from violence and have amplified voices and agency.

 

The TORCHES programme is using a whole community approach to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) and amplify girls’ voices.  This approach is using a gender-power analysis through school-based initiatives like Tuseme and community mobilisation activities to challenge the root causes of inequality for women and girls and high rates of VAWG.

 

Reduced gender-based violence as men participate in the redistribution of chores in the home

By Michele Munatswa, Information and Communication Officer – Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe (FAWEZI) Chapter

“When everyone understands that we all have power within, then it will be easy to achieve gender equality and equity. It becomes easy to share chores at home so that the burden of unpaid care work is not mostly affecting women,” says a 39-year-old man, Graster Ngandu from Shamva District in Zimbabwe.

 

Although Ngandu is a Village head and highly respected in his community, he helps his wife with household chores and looks after their two children when she is away. Since he works close to their homestead compared to the wife who works further from his home, Ngandu is usually the one who prepares the children for their next day of school. He makes sure they have clean uniforms and have done their homework.

 

According to the local societal gender stereotypes, a village head is a respected traditional leader in Zimbabwe who should not do household chores, usually delegated to women.

 

“Things where never like this before, I used to think house chores were meant for a woman and helping a woman meant I was not man enough. However, since I was trained as a SASA Together leader under the Towards Resilient Communities with Health, Equity  and Safety for all ( TORCHES) project in Zimbabwe in June 2021 my perceptions have since changed,” said Ngandu.

 

The SASA! Together is a community mobilisation approach being used in  preventing Violence Against women and Girls (VAWG) and  it is based on the analysis and understanding of power imbalances as the root cause of VAWG.

“I now know my wife needs my support to positively contribute to the development of our family and that violence does not solve anything. I am now cascading the SASA Together model to the rest of the community members,” continued Ngandu.

 

“SASA! Together means NOW, meaning now is the time to address issues of unpaid carework,VAWG, gender equality and equity in the community. It is time to challenge the root causes of inequality for women and girls  for safer commuinities,” said Ngandu.

Ngandu is one of the twenty-four community champions and leaders who have been trained under the SASA Together methodology in Shamva. These individuals conduct regular activities among family, friends and neighbours and others to spark reflection, dialogue, and action as well as commit to working on themselves- balancing power in their own relationships and lives.

 

Ngandu is currently facing resistance from his family and community for doing chores which are meant for women. Some of the men in his community say he has been bewitched by his wife. A few question his leadership and say he has grown soft however Ngandu is determined to break the gender stereotype in his community and restore balance of power between men and women.

 

“As I conduct my sessions, I have realised that both men and women have power within them. However, there is need for individuals to exercises their power positively without taking advantage of it.”

 

“With the knowledge I have, I want to reach everyone in my community so that everyone despite their sex, race and age are aware of their rights and how to exercise their power within without violating other’s rights. This will help in reducing cases of VAWG in the household and the community as everyone will be an equal partner with rights to be upheld,” said Ngandu.

 

The TORCHES project which is being implemented by the Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter  (FAWEZ) in partnership with Action Aid Zimbabwe (AAZ), Family Aids Counselling Trust (FACT) and Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ) is using two methodologies of the Tuseme/ Speak out and the SASA! Together. The project is funded by the Peoples Postcode Lottery through Action Aid Zimbabwe and is being implemented in Shamva, Chitungwiza and Nyanga Districts.

 

Behavior changes for out of school adolescents through mentorship

Tendai had to drop out of school in grade 3 in 2019 as she could not handle the teasing from the other students because of her mentally ill grandmother who she stays with along with her sister`s family. She had low self-esteem because her family is poor and could not provide the basic necessities for her to be comfortable among her peers.

Ever since she started attending the FAWEZI community learning Centre in Matobo district, ward 4, her confidence is increasing and she can now relate to other children without being intimidated. She now makes sure with the little they have, she is wearing clean sewn clothes and is not ashamed anymore, she says she understands there are poor but if she works hard, gets an opportunity to get back to formal school and learn, she can get a job and take care of her family.

“I am happy now I can socialize with others I used to be shy because we are poor and had to drop out of school and now, I make sure I look presentable when I come to school. Thank you to FAWEZI and our educators and mentors for giving us second chance”, she said.

Meanwhile another 14-year-old boy stopped hanging around toxic friends who had introduced him to drugs and toxic substances after consistently attending learning sessions at the FAWEZI community learning center. His mother was worried about him and said she was on the verge of giving up on him.

“We rarely saw Adam at home and constantly heard he was stealing people`s livestock in the community and hanging around illegal drug dealers. I asked the mother and educator at Matankeni center in Matobo to help me with him since I was a single parent. After 2 months of attending the sessions, I saw a change in dressing and even the way he addressed me. I saw a motivated young man who prepared before lessons so as to impress his educator and I am forever grateful to FAWEZI,” said Adam`s mother.

“I am glad FAWEZI started the community learning centers as it changed my life. I do not want to be a drug addict as I now know from the lessons I got that it kills and destroys one`s future,” noted Adam.

FAWEZI senior Projects Officer Assisting an Educator and Mother access online radio lessons to use at the community learning center. Picture credit: Michele Munatswa

FAWEZI in partnership with MOPSE tracked and enrolled girls and boys between the ages nine and fourteen in Beitbridge and Matobo District who are out of school supporting them through community learning under the Education in Emergencies project. A total of 25 Educators and 25 Mothers were trained in both districts to teach and mentor learners in their communities. The Educators are either retired or unemployed qualified teachers and the mothers are community cadres who were trained and equipped with skills to provide mentorship.

This project is contributing to the Adolescent Girls & Young Women Health for Life 360o (AGYW HFL 360o) project which is funded by PEPFAR through USAID. It is being implemented by FHI 360 together with sub-partners.

A Second Chance to Education

After losing both her parents who were the source of income, life became very difficult for thirteen years old Sipho (Not real name) and her siblings who wanted to further their education but could not due to lack of financial support. She dropped out of school in grade four in 2018 and started helping her grandmother to fend for the family.

“As an orphan, l thought the only way to get out of poverty was either getting a job as a maid or getting married, l was hopeless because of what l was experiencing at that time,” said Sipho.

In March 2021, Sipho’s grandmother Claire Ndovu, learnt about an opportunity to alternative learning for out of school girls and boys in Beitbridge district. The community learning opportunity was shared during a community sensitisation meeting held by Forum for African Women Educator – Zimbabwe (FAWEZI) to introduce the Education in Emergencies project in line with the Zimbabwe HIV Care and Treatment Mechanism (ZHCT-M). This project feeds into the DREAMS and is supported by FH1 360.

Following the sensitisation meeting Ndlovu registered Sipho together with her siblings to attend the Old Nuli community learning centre in ward 15 as the three of them were within the targeted 9 to 14 age range. Sipho was very excited as this was an opportunity to catch up with learning and a chance to make new friends.

“This was one of the best moments in my life, I was motivated and felt like I was given a second chance in life to make myself into whatever I wanted through attending all learning and mentorship sessions,” said Sipho.

Within four weeks of attending learning and mentorship sessions in May, Sipho indicated interest to go back to mainstream school. FAWEZI facilitated her assessment by Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) Beitbridge District personnel. She was referred to enrol at Old Nuli Primary School as a grade 3 learner. MoPSE also facilitated her inclusion into the Basic Education Assistance Model (BEAM) so that her 2021 school fees would be catered for.

“Due to my consistency attending the community learning sessions, l soon realized that l really wanted to go back to formal school and that I was still too young to get married. My peers whom I met during the sessions inspired me, as they were determined to learn despite the mockery from our school going peers,” said Sipho.

Some of the learners who attended the sessions with Sipho have never attended formal school thus attend the writing class whilst the others were screened according to their performance during the screening phrase by FAWEZI and MOPSE despite their ages.

According to the Educator and Mother who run the Old Nuli community learning centre, Sipho was one of their best learners in terms of commitment to her work.

“The program empowered and restored Sipho’s confidence and will to be better every day. She would ask me for more home work and that’s when I decided she was ready to go back to formal school.” Said Voice Muzhambi, the community centre Educator.

Reports from Sipho`s teacher at Old Nuli Primary School show that she is settling in well. Old Nuli Primary School is part of the 35 schools identified and trained by FAWEZI to manage out of school children re-entering school and in Gender Responsive Pedagogy in May this year.

“I am forever grateful to FAWEZI for introducing me to the community learning centre and for the support I got. I will study hard, become a nurse and start supporting other vulnerable girls like myself attain education as this program has done for me.” Said Sipho.

FAWEZI under the project assisted her with stationery that includes, books, pens, pencils, a ruler and a satchel to use at school and her grandmother bought her uniforms from the little money she got from selling her vegetables.

The Education in Emergencies project is a 6-month pilot project running in Matobo and Beitbridge districts. Its aim is to promote continuation of education with a major focus on girls. It is targeting tracking and providing alternative learning to 1000 out of school girls and boys in community learning centres through structured 3 days sessions. The program envisages that once learners are assessed for readiness, they will enrol in schools close to these community learning centres.

A chance at alternative learning through community learning centres, a case of Matobo and Beitbridge

The Problem

 

 

Musa (not real name) is a 14 – year-old girl who has never attended school who sells mopani worms which she picks, prepares and dries with her family. Every day she goes to sell her share of the mopani worms so as to help her grandmother fend for the family. Musa however always makes time to attend lessons under the Forum for African Women Educationalists – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) community learning centre every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Musa cannot write thus she joins the class that focuses on writing lessons unlike her sibling, nine-year-old Temba who attends a different class since he dropped out of school in grade two.

Musa and Temba are part of many adolescent boys and girls in Beitbridge and Matobo District who are out of school for various reasons depending on their age, sex, location and vulnerability. The prolonged closure of schools due to COVID -19 also buttressed the already existing challenges of child marriage and illegal cross border travel among teenagers in these areas thus contributing to an increase in school drop outs. Teen pregnancy is also a trend that has pushed girls out of school

OUR INTERVENTION

In line with this challenges FAWEZI is implementing a project in these two districts where the organisation, is tracking and enrolling girls and boys between nine and fourteen years and giving them an alternative chance at education through community learning. The organisation recruited and successfully trained a group of 25 Educators and 25 Mothers in both districts to assist the learners for a six-month period under a pilot project funded by USAID and being implemented by FHI360 together with sub-partners. The Educators are either retired or unemployed qualified teachers and the Mothers are community cadres who were trained and equipped with skills to provide mentorship.

During learning and mentorship sessions, the Educators and Mothers reported that some fourteen-year-old children had never attended school and some are from child headed families. Most adolescents who were engaging in illegal gold mining, cross boarder trading and harvesting mopani worms for resell have been reported to constantly attend lessons during the three days classes per week.

OUR SUCCESS

Through this project, FAWEZI is motivating approximately 673 adolescents to go back to school through alternative learning pathways. Up to date a total of 62 have been re-integrated into formal school after passing assessment by the Educator, Mother with the help of the district   level Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE).

SUSTAINABILITY OF THE PROJECT

In May FAWEZI in Partnership with MoPSE also trained representatives from schools surrounding the community centres on Gender Responsive Pedagogy (GRP). A school Head and Teacher were trained from each school on GRP with the aim of also generating interest in the project and also preparing them to accept learners who may be coming from the community learning centres. The schools were also supported with stationary for the roll out of the GRP also as motivation to support the community centres.

 

 

 

Ward level Community Sensitizations on the TORCHES Project and SASA! Together and Asset Mapping and selection of Community Champions and Community Leaders.

 

FAWEZI conducted Community Sensitizations on the Project and SASA! Together in Wards 16, 24 and 28 (Shamva) on the 25th and the 26th of March 2021 respectively and in Wards 10 and 18 on the 30th of March in Chitungwiza. FAWEZI then selected 35 Community Champions and 15 Community Leaders from Shamva and Chitungwiza who had shown interest in preventing violence against women and girls. These are individuals who are enthusiastic about creating change and interested in joining their power with others to create a supportive environment to end Violence against women and girls.

Chitungwiza Stakeholders Refresher Training on Referral Pathways and the Protocol on the Multi-Sectoral Management of Sexual Abuse and Violence in Zimbabwe

 

FAWEZI in partnership with Action Aid Zimbabwe (AAZ), Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ) and Family Aids Caring Trust (FACT) is implementing the Towards Resilient Communities with Health Equity and Safety for All, (TORCHES) Project in Shamva and Chitungwiza Districts The project aims to create communities where women and girls, including people with disabilities, are free from violence and have amplified voices and agency.

FAWEZI conducted a refresher training on referral pathways and the Protocol on the Multi-Sectoral Management of Sexual Abuse and Violence in Zimbabwe to Chitungwiza stakeholders on the 25th of February 2021. The proceedings of the meeting included presentations which were facilitated by the Department of Social Development, the ZRP Victim Friendly Unit, the National Prosecuting Authority and Family Support Trust.