Young Woman Defies Odds – originally posted by FAWEZI partner ActionAid Zimbabwe

See the story “Young Woman Defies Odds” written by FAWEZI partner, Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe, about our joint-program!

Young Woman Defies Odds

By Martin James, Project Officer Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe

Patience Muronzi (24) of Chitungwiza never ceases to astound the disability fraternity. She has exceeded society expectations to act against the exclusion faced by children with disabilities in mainstream schools and colleges to graduate with an Accounting Degree from a local university. Despite having albinism, she has been instrumental in advocating for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in her community as part of the implementation of the “Empowered adolescent Girls for Improved Quality of Life Programme.”

Patience has been supported by ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) partner Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ) in partnership with Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) and the AIDS Counselling Trust (ACT).

Albinism is a range of disorders that result from a reduction or absence of melanin. These vary in severity and often cause white skin, light hair and vision problems and which has resulted in persons with disability being left out of mainstream development.

Patience community trainings on “Parenting using the Family Matters Curriculum for caregivers and parents for children with disabilities” have changed attitudes of many parents of children with disabilities. Because of the stigma, myths, beliefs and misconceptions attached to disabilities, parents and care givers of such children tend to hide the children from the public. Parents admitted during the trainings conducted by Patience that they are always worried that something might happen to their children if they mingle with others.

One parent said that she had over the years been over-protective of her daughter and rarely took her out of the house. She admitted that her daughter had no knowledge about her sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) as she neither has peers to socialise with nor was she ever at school. “Who is interested in a cripple after all. That is why I used to keep my daughter at home,” said one parent.

Patience is a living example to explain to the parents of children with disabilities that all children are important and should be released to learn about life including learning about SRHR. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) World Report on Disability for 2018, people with disabilities are sexually assaulted at nearly three times the rate of people without disabilities. Patience told the parents of children with disabilities that 60 % of people with disabilities especially females had at one time in their lives been subjected to some form of unwanted sexual activity citing the 2018 WHO Report on Disability. Unfortunately, almost half never reported the assault as they had not been empowered on their rights, said Patience quoting the WHO report. In general, people with disabilities experience domestic and sexual violence at higher rates than people who do not have any form of disability according to the WHO Report on Disability.

“Society should not cripple children with disability further by denying them their right to information for example on SRHR, life skills and any form of education, “said the enthusiastic Patience who said she was one of the lucky young ones to learn about SRHR from her father. Urging other parents of children with disability to emulate her father, Patience said fathers should break the gendered stereotypes by getting close to their children and support them on SRHR issues irrespective of them being males.

Patience’s key note session on SRHR hinges on the need for male guardians to take an active role in educating their children on SRHR. “It was my father who guided me through the biological phenomena of the menstrual cycle. Had it not been for him, I would have led a very stressful adolescent life,” said Patience, a real-life model on how good parenting can shape the future of children with disabilities positively.

At her youthful age, Patience has been able to captivate parents, caregivers and teachers of children with disabilities. She has trained them on the need for them to provide sex education to their children. She said they should understand the physical and reproductive changes their children go through during puberty and adolescence and learn the ways to communicate their values to their children.

Parents and caregivers left the sessions conducted by Patience armed with tools and strategies for communicating with their children about SRHR. Patience has reached out to 47 female and 16 male parents or guardians in Chitungwiza in 2019. The Adolescent Girls for Improved Quality of Life Programme aims to aims to increase empowerment and improved quality of life among adolescent girls in Shamva, Chitungwiza and Hopely by implementing unique best practices and models to address three areas namely: Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Economic Empowerment (EE). It aims to reach 210 adolescents with disabilities, the majority being female by July 2020.

FAWEZI HOLDS 5TH AGM

Forum for African Women Educationalists-Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) held its 5th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 30th of August 2019. The AGM ran under the theme “Promoting Equitable, Inclusive, and Quality Lifelong Education in Zimbabwe.” It was attended by FAWEZI members from all the ten provinces of Zimbabwe and other senior education officials including Provincial Education Directors, District Schools Inspectors and School Heads.

Speaking at the event the Guest of Honour Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Paul Mavima commended FAWEZI for the work that it is doing is supporting government efforts in the education system of Zimbabwe.

“Over the years FAWEZI has become a key strategic partner to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. It has a noble goal, that of supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable children to access education and perform well up to the highest level possible.” He said.

“The Ministry cherishes with interest this special goal as it resonates well with its focus on promoting equitable access to quality education.”

The event was also graced by the Executive Director of Forum for African Women Educationalists- (FAWE) Martha Muhwezi who also commended FAWEZI for organising the 5th AGM. Former Minister Fay Chung (founding member of FAWE) was also present.

Representatives from the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, and Action Aid Zimbabwe also attended and gave solidarity speeches during the event. Towards the end of the event the reigning National Executive Committee (NEC) was dissolved and elections were held thereby putting in place a new NEC.

The FAWEZI Alumi and current beneficiaries were also present .The AGM was held at Queen Elizabeth High School in Harare.

STEM CAREER GUIDANCE DAY

In line with its running Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) project FAWEZI held a one day career guidance for high school learners at Oriel Girls High School on the 22nd of March 2019. This event was aimed at bringing female role models in STEM closer to the learners so that they could get insight on how to follow diverse career paths in STEM. FAWEZI invited 5 leaners from 6 of its project schools in the Epworth Mabvuku Tafara District. (Oriel Girls, Tafara 1, Tafara 2, Mabvuku, Epworth, Domboramwari) to attend and receive hands on training and mentorship from various STEM mentors. FAWEZI conducted this in partnership the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) – Technology Transfer Center. Other mentors present were drawn from, Techwomen Zimbabwe, Purple Future Trust and Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers. The activities of the day included design thinking skill sessions, group ICT mentorship session hands-on programming (code labs) for all participants’ competitions in design thinking and STEM career guidance lectures.

FAWEZI believes that such events increase the interest in STEM especially by girls as they bring in fun to the learning and teaching of STEM and also provide close interaction with role models. The attendants (teachers and students) recommended that FAWEZI holds more of such events and also included more learners. As an organisation that has been working in schools in Zimbabwe since 1998, FAWEZI has been implementing various projects to promote girls education. Central to its work has been the promotion of the uptake and performance of girls in STEM.  FAWEZI is currently in the last year of implementing a 3 year STEM project funded by the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF) which is targeted at creating an interest and excellence in STEM by the girls from selected schools in the Epworth – Mabvuku -Tafara District.

FAWEZI LAUNCHES ‘WOMEN IN STEM FORUM’.

The Forum for African Women Educationalists – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) launched a women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Forum on the 13th of February 2019. This launch was in line with the organisations interventions to promote the uptake and performance of girls and women in STEM subjects and careers.

FAWEZI is currently in the last year of implementing a 3-year STEM project funded by the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF), which is targeted at creating an interest and excellence in STEM by the girls from selected schools in the Epworth – Mabvuku -Tafara District.  The launch of the Forum was therefore a means of sustaining this intervention by mobilising women in STEM to support and commit their time and or resources to promoting STEM for girls. Read more

FAWEZI joins HIT in a STEM career guidance event at Highfield 1 High

FAWEZI joined the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT)’s Technology Transfer Licensing and Commercialization Center (TTLCC) department in a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career guidance event this morning. The event took place Highfields I High School and engaged ‘O’ and ‘A’ level learners from the Science department on possible career paths in STEM, especially those offered by HIT. The learners showed interest in hands-on STEM careers and also shared innovative ideas of their own that they wish to use to invent solutions to real life issues.

FAWEZI hosts International Women’s Day Facebook Live discussion

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2019, FAWEZI hosted a Facebook live discussion with some of our Alumni members and young women from the Harare Institute of Technology. The discussion was centered on the theme – ‘Balance For Better’. We discussed issues that impact on equal representation of girls and women, focusing mainly on Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and careers. Some of the participants also shared their personal experiences. Watch part 1 of the discussion here.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy WOMEN’S month and happy women’s DAY today, 8 March. For us this is a perfect time to amplify our voice in telling girls about their worth so that we build their confidence as they grow into the women of tomorrow. We also continue to support them in pursuing their career paths especially those that have been previously male dominated. As we celebrate all the women throughout the month lets also focus on identifying and recognizing their countless achievements. We do and will continue to celebrate the achievements of women in all aspects of society including social, economic, cultural and political arenas.

FAWEZI hosts Amplify Change partners meeting

FAWEZI hosted an Amplify Change Grant partners meeting at our offices on 7 March, 2019 . Our main aim was to create partnership and improve the implementation of our activities . The organisations present were Chiedza Child Care and Youth Aspire Development Trust, both of which shared their work-plans with FAWEZI and as we all jointly identified areas for more opportunities and partnerships.

The meeting included FAWEZI sharing what we have done partnering with Amplify Change:

 

 

 

 

 

  • The baseline was conducted from the 24th to the 28th of September in Chitungwiza and Shamva
  • This was executed in the schools allocated to FAWEZI and the school’s surrounding communities
  • The Baseline Survey results notified the topics that are focused on in our proceeding activities (guidance and counseling trainings, SRHR dialogues with young women, SRHR dialogues with adolescent girls, etc)

During the meeting we touched on what each partner is doing with beneficiaries with disabilities, upcoming young women and junior parliamentarians workshops, training of service providers, ways for Amplify to improve as a funding partner, and ways for us all to support one another.

UNICEF’s ‘National Evaluation Capacity Development’ meeting

On 6 March, 2019, FAWEZI’s M&E Officer Aleaster Masiyakurima took part in a brown bag meeting on capacity development pertaining to evaluation strategies on the national level. The ‘National Evaluation Capacity Development’ meeting was hosted by UNICEF Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Evaluation Association. The objectives of the session included:

  • raising awareness on evaluation and the United Nation’s sustainable development goals and
  • discussing strategies to effectively strengthen the evaluation capacity in Zimbabwe

FAWEZI was honored to be in attendance and is making every effort to engage in national conversations that impact ‘development’: especially those related to keeping our eyes open and curating effective records to watch how education and other social drivers impact our society.