FAWEZI conducted zoom dialogues on the 30th and 31st of July with adolescent girls in Chitungwiza and Shamva to schools to discuss topics around menstrual hygiene management, Violence Against Women Girls (VAWG) and Sexual Reproduction Health Reproductive (SRHR) issues in light of the current COVID 19 lockdown. The girls outlined challenges they were facing which include, teenage pregnancies even among examination candidates, child marriages, lack of water and economic hardships which is combined with rising prices of sanitary pads. Most adolescent girls yearned on how they are facing economic hardships as they are no longer able to perform their income generating activities due to the imposed COVID 19 strict regulations like vending. Subsequently FAWEZI took up the conversation to national radio platform Issues Panenyaya . The aim was to engage more stakeholders whilst also targeting decision makers in the discussion on the issues affecting the girls.
FAWEZI held codes of conduct planning meetings on the 31st of August in Shamva with 5 project schools and on the 11 of September in Chitungwiza. The aim of the meetings was to equip the core teams with knowledge on how to develop school level Codes of Conduct in line with existing national and International laws and policies. The meeting was attended by representatives from the District Office, school heads and project link teachers. FAWEZI engaged a legal resource person to give guidance to drafting an effective Code of Conduct.
On the 25th and 31st of August ,FAWEZI facilitated School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV) referral pathway meetings between school heads from project schools and the CSO’s working in the Shamva and Chitungwiza Districts. The meetings were to connect the schools to the service providers and also establish the existing referral pathways in relation to SRGBV. The schools managed to map the services that are at their disposal and also recommend further relations between the schools and the CSO’s.
Today the Forum for African Women Educationalists – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) joined in the observance of the International Day of the Girl Child (IDCG) under the theme ‘With Her: A Skilled Girl Force’. October 11 was declared the International Day of the Girl Child by the United Nations General Assembly On December 19, 2011 with the day being set aside to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
As we observe IDCG for FAWEZI it is not only about remembering girls’ access to education, staying in school and completing education but also about preparing them to enter the world of work inline with the 2018 IDCG theme ‘With Her: A Skilled Girl Force ‘.
Our girls today are growing up in an environment which is fraught with challenges and uncertainties. It is amid these uncertainties that they strive to access education, stay in school and complete their studies. As we remember our girls this year we urge all educational institutions to bear in mind that the fight for the education of the girl child is not a discriminatory issue. While we have reached parity in access to education, the completion rate of girls beyond the second year of secondary education is low. This is where most learners begin to think about careers and their areas of interest in terms of professions. This is where we begin to lose the participation of girls in issues of development.
It is against such a background that as an organisation we seek to advocate for and support the participation and performance of girls in the ‘21st century skills’ which include Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Arts and ICT. We are of the belief that if the barriers to their participation in these areas are broken from school level the results will be more females in the related industries which will also produce more female role models for the girls back in school. We believe that girls can achieve their opportunities if they do no not face gender based discrimination.
As Zimbabwe we have a very supportive environment and policies which encourage the education of the girl child. Partnerships and collaborations between Civil Society Organisations and the public sector to make the necessary interventions to increase girls’ access to education, staying in school and completing.
It is our desire that every girl child in Zimbabwe accesses and completes a basic education which will position her to be of meaningful contribution in her society. In relation to the IDCG2018 theme we call upon women who are in different sectors to take part in empowering the girl child through mentorship and career guidance so that we jointly create a future skilled female workforce. This however can also be achieved by tackling gender stereotypes across professions and addressing the many systemic barriers faced by girls and women.
On the IDCG we also emphasize on the need to intervene on the plight of the girls who face various socioeconomic difficulties evidenced by child marriages, forced marriages, sexual harassment, emotional abuse, child labour, human trafficking and unemployment among others.
Over and above all we call upon the government of Zimbabwe to continue the efforts of prioritising education financing and create an enabling environment for Civil Society Organisations working to support education in Zimbabwe.
FAWEZI is a non-governmental organisation established in 1998 and registered as a private voluntary organisation in 1999. Since the organisation has worked with communities, schools, civil society, non-governmental organizations and ministries to achieve gender equity and equality in education through targeted programs. Its work influences government policy, builds public awareness, demonstrates best educational practice through effective models, and encourages the adoption of these models by governments and institutions of education.