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TaLi and Higher Life Hold Girls Indaba in Mashonaland West

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

On the 6th of July, TaLI in partnership with Higher Life engaged the young girls in Secondary schools from the Zvimba District in the Mashonaland West Province. The goal was to unpack and understand child marriages in the province whilst sensitizing the participants on the importance of education and ultimately allowing them to proffer contextual based solutions for themselves in order to curb early marriages in their communities.

The Indaba which consisted of 330 girls (participants) was hosted by Matoranhembe High School .Ms Mashayamombe presented on the agenda of the Girls Indaba, sighting its importance and the reasons for the call to end child marriages not only in Zvimba but in Zimbabwe at large. Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development also participated in facilitation and highlighted the dangers of early marriages, teenage pregnancies and the importance of appreciating education as a girl child. Emphasis was made on the importance of acquiring as much knowledge as possible as a need to empower the girl child as well as threats that are imposed on the well being, body and health of the girl child if they enter into early marriage.

Focus groups were then created in order for the girls to discuss the various issues associated with child marriages amongst them: questions of abuse, the reality of child marriages, real life situations, driving factors and the role of the community in both perpetuating and curbing of child marriages. Each group had to present on their outcomes from their discussions

From the discussions poverty, religion, cultural practices, family disintegration and teenage sex were cited as the major driving factors of early marriages in Zvimba. Interesting to note is that, churches, parents (particularly mothers), peers and the girls themselves are major participants in the practise of child marriages. They however, felt that men and boys could assist in ending child marriages by incorporating them in girls’ rights awareness programs. In addition to this, the pupils also felt that men should be at the forefront of taking legal action against parents who force their children to marry at an early age.

Various types of abuses in early marriages were also discussed. These included verbal, sexual, financial, and social abuse which ultimately make the lives of the girls difficult. Health problems such as delivery complications, miscarriages, maternal mortality, and poor immunization of babies due to lack of adequate health services were amongst the vital concerns. The students also shared their various experiences in their communities and the stories of other girls who had married prematurely. Most of the stories involved teenage pregnancies which were unaccounted for due to either neglect or false identities of the alleged boyfriends.

The participants proffered various solutions for future programs. It was then agreed that there was need for more programs of this nature not only targeting pupils but men, boys and community leaders in Zvimba. This could be done by creating clubs in schools and communities which address issues that affect and effect the spread of early marriages. An education fund was also suggested to keep girls in school Events like Sports Days and church gatherings should be utilised in raising awareness on the rights of children and the quest to end early marriages.

The event was highly engaging and participatory and the objectives were met. It reflected the state of affairs in Zvimba pertaining child marriages. The Girls Indaba also showed that the young women knew what they wanted for themselves, were ready to claim their rights and they were ready to join in the fight to end child marriages


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