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