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International Day of the Girl Child

TaLI, Tag a Life, Girl Child, Girl Child Rights in Zimbabwe, Child Marriages in Zimbabwe, Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, Nyari Mashayamombe, Human Rights Activists in Africa, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Chilren's Rights, African Union, Children's Rights, Child Marriages in Southern Africa, Child Marriages in Africa, Girls Education in Zimbabwe, Girl Child in Zimbabwe, Women's Rights in Zimbabwe, Girls in Midlands Province Zimbabwe, Ministry of Education, UNFPA Zimbabwe, UNICEF Zimbabwe, HIV in girls in Zimbabwe, Girls Sexual Reproductive Health, Women's Rights Activists in Zimbabwe, Human Rights Activists in Zimbabwe, Children's Rights, TaLI Theory of Change, Girls in Tech, Girls in STERM in Zimbabwe, Lazarus Dokora, UN Women

11 October 2016

World over, girls are faced with enormous challenges, and each continent has its specific issues which perpetuate these vulnerabilities. While these challenges come in shapes and faces that are different continentally, the end results are often the same for girls ranging from; high maternal mor-tality rates for those below the age of 24, HIV continues to be the face of girls, young women and women, with UN AIDS siting that 15% of women living with HIV are aged 15–24, of whom 80% live in sub-Saharan Africa. More challenges include illiteracy with many countries still struggling to en-sure access to primary and secondary education.

Comprehensive Sexual reproductive health and rights for young people especially young women remain a politically heated debate especially for Zimbabwe with the leaders struggling to come to terms with the fact that young people are having sex at a very early stage and therefore deserve access to reproductive information and services. Child marriages are at the centre of the global agenda as a result of the fact that more than 30% of women are married before their 18th birthday and we have seen that in Zimbabwe the same can be said regarding the importance that the coun-try seems to place the issue of the child marriages; what remains to be seen are resources that are allocated to the issue. The justice system has yet to act urgently to ensure the alignment of the constitution to make administration of the laws that protect children from marriage are in place. Patriarchal societies sponsored by corruption, negative religious and cultural practices continue to expose girls to discrimination and the untold suffering.

The 11th of October each year marks the International Day of the Girl Child, a day that the United Nations Secretary General, Ban-ki-moon in 2012 set aside to annually acknowledge the challenges that the girl child faces and in Zimbabwe, organisations like TaLI welcome this commemoration as it acknowledges the challenges girls in Zimbabwe and Africa face, as they work to make com-munities and the world safe for the girls. Running under the theme ‘Girls progress = Goals progress, Generation Data’, the United Nations acknowledges that when girls progress the sustainable development goals progress too. In Zimbabwe, Africa and all developing countries, communities are held together by women, and the girls today are women tomorrow.

It makes simple sense that in the next fifteen years for the Zimbabwe to move forward, the country has to invest smartly in girls and young women, to ensure that the communities have empowered women who are ready to contribute just like men, to the development of their own families, com-munities, national and the world. Today the world is run by founders and Chief Executive Officers of Multinational Corporations, Non Governmental Organisations, Donor Agencies, States, Business, Entrepreneurs, Artists, Scientists, Engineers who are women, and it is known that when women lead, there is less corruption and bad governance. In Zimbabwe a few women have made it to the top and a few are part of important decision making processes. Investment should be made urgently, to promote equity and equally in the lives of girls and young women, not only as a human rights issue, but as a moral obligation; to advance the lives of girls, ensure equal, fair opportunities for young women and black women in employment and financial resources in every field.

In Africa, the biggest scourge that takes away majority of the developing world’s efforts from the advancement of the rights of girls and young women, as well as women in general is the corruption, bad governance and lack of accountability by leaders. For example, Zimbabwe has gone through untold corruption by officials with the President Robert Mugabe acknowledging a $15billion US dollars disappearing from the diamond mining, and that is believed only to be a tip of an ice-burg. What that money would have achieved for an economy such as Zimbabwe would be to ensure that the industries that are closing down everyday are assisted to keep afloat and ensure jobs. If there was good governance in these countries, officials would account, and we would see corrupt officials fired from public offices.

Girls and all children would remain in school because the governments would be able to pay for every child’s education right through high school as provided by in most constitutions. Women wouldn't have to die giving birth like in most of these countries such as those in Southern Africa; Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique due to poor health facilities. Au-thorities would promote accountability and girls and all young people would be encouraged to en-gaged with local leaders engaging them to account for their efforts to develop their communities. The young people themselves would have a chance to become leaders in their community and their nations, and there wouldn't be police brutality to citizens whose leaders acknowledge the role of youths including young women, in exercising their constitutional rights and wanting to know how their leaders govern their resources.

As the world moves to emphasise data generation around empowerment of girls and young wom-en, we encourage the country to interrogate the meaning of ‘literacy’ where basic reading and writ-ing seems not to mean real development as countries such as Zimbabwe with a literacy rate of above 92% seem to have the worst citizens affected by poverty and diseases. Literacy must trans-late to meaningful development, and contribute to the demographic dividend, which seems to only happen when someone reaches a minimum of secondary school. While we celebrate this year’s edition of the International Day of the Girl Child, we encourage the government of Zimbabwe to open more spaces for accountability, take action against perpetrators of corruption openly, en-courage constitutionalism, promote a child focuses national budget to invest in social protection of children and the justice system, as well as make education to secondary level free for all especially the vulnerable groups.

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