Economic and social empowerment of marginalized young girls and women
A Peacemaking Project by Tatenda M.
What is the injustice we are solving?
In Zimbabwe especially in Masvingo province there is a high rate of gender based violence especially on young girls and women. There is no equal educational opportunities, girls and women are regarded as second class citizens, there is no justice of rape perpetrators. In some religious groups girls are married at the age of 14 to a 50 year old man. Some are being exchanged with food hampers, hence i and the organisation we are working with, 'Girl Child Empowerment of Zimbabwe', we are against such acts as it derprives young girls their right of choice and to fulfill their full potential.
Our Compassionate Solution:
To solve this injustice of Forced marriages is the injustice that we want to solve which is leading to forced early marriages. The impact of forced marriages yields nagative results on the educational and economic aspects on women.This injustice is as a result of lack of cultural dynamics amongst community members and the society at large.
2. To solve this we are going to embark on an inclusive community dialogue meeting and capacitate each other in a bid to curb forced marriages
we will address Since most of the gender inequalities and constraints to education emanate from the deeply entrenched cultural values, attitudes and practices of the parents and the community opinion leaders and the community members in general, it requires the communitys effort to change them. Many communities see such practices as the enshrinement of their identity and survival and they take it as their sacred duty to protect and perpetuate such practices. As such, we are going to engage and capacity build the community of the need to change such practices, promote gender equality and economic empowerment for young girls and women. We are going to address this by engaging parents and community leaders, including the chiefs, worked together towards increasing enrolment of girls and eliminating early marriage. This included the following action, 1. Sensitizing parents, especially fathers, on the importance of girls education and the disadvantages of early marriage. 2. Bringing the chiefs and sub chiefs together to analyze the status of girls education in their areas and the negative impact on the development of their areas. 3.Each chief formulating their own areas work plan on how they wished to address the gender constraints to girls education. We do believe that an educated woman is an empowered women. 4. Training of young girls on behaviour change and taking charge of their lives
by Doing community sensitazation on the negative impact of forced marriages in relation to educuation and economic growth. This going to be achieved through an Involvement, engagement and transforming the community into a gender responsive environment physically, academically and socially. By training of trainers programs, on the negative impact of forced marriage to the community.
Our Project Plan:
- Our goal is to create equal educational opportunities and economically empower young girls and women
- To send every girl child in school and promote gender equity in line with SDG3 and 5
- To erradicate poverty and have equal access to resources for young girls and women in the community.
- To create equality and equity in terms of educational opportunities, which is also a way to curb early and forced marriages
- To end early and forced marriages
We will increase my / our compassion by...
We are going to make sure that every girl child have access to education and community resources as the boy child. We are going to engage even community leaders on our compassion so that it will have impact as they are the most listened. About 6 schools are going to benefit from this project. We are going to target 50 young girls. We will engage local leaders to help their community erradicate poverty which is the main driver fueling child marriages.
How will you show courage?
We are going to show courage by engaging all like minded organisations including engagement of public officials who are the parliamentarians, they help us in making in fully implementing our cause of concern and the minister of women and youth affairs on our activities. We are also going to show courage through reaching out to marginalized communities, to which others do not want due to its accessibility although there are many cases of women suppression.
How will you collaborate with others?
We are going to collaborate with like-minded organisations inclusive of the ministry of women and youth affairs. The ministry of women affairs is going to assist in making sure that all young girls and women empowerment pieces of legislation are taken into account. It is going to play a watch dog role in our project implementation. The ministry is also going to help us with reading material in different languages for our community to have access to information. We are going to engage public officials, that is elected members of parliament who will help us carry out issues to the parliament so that it will be a national issue
How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)
We are going to use our already existing community score cards, they are going to help us doing monitoring and evaluation. A community score card is a tool that we are going to use through engagement of the community around issues of our project title. We are going to do a pre and post evaluation, that is before we implement our project we are going to ask and record on the current situation in relation to our goals, that is equal educational attainment. During the implemention we are going to engage the communities again recording on the current affairs in relation to our goals. The decision will help us see if we are on the right direction. If not it will also help us see on what is to be done. For example in our scenario it will be marked from 0-10, that is in community A, number of girls going to school before project implementation, maybe 3 out of 10, during maybe 5 out of 10 and after maybe 8 out of 10, in such a scenario this card will be showing the impact of our project and decision making in the event that there is little to no impact. This is a self evaluation tool and can be used for social accountability as well. Our scored card will be named 'education score card' it helps in decision making and helps us in giving direction during project implementation.
- We are going to use an education score card
- Engage the school to find out the level of young girls enrolled in comparison to that of their male counterparts
- Engage the communities in finding out information on if they are sending every child in school
- The last step is to gather data and make a well informed decision in making sure that young girls and women are being sent ti school and have access to resources
How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?
The project is a success and interesting especially on the part of meaningfully engaging local leaders. They felt to have been left behind and are so much interested to join the peace movement. This project ended up being owned by the community and write now women's rights are also regarded as human rights. We have capacitated a number of women's rights champions, who vowed to continue advocating for what is right even beyond our project
How did your community change as a result of your project?
the perception towards women by their male counterparts. women are now treated as human rights not second class citizens.
How many people were impacted by your project?
In addition to those directly impacted, are there additional people you feel were indirectly indirectly impacted or reached? If so, how many? (This might include people who read about your project, families of people that attended your workshops or received services, etc.)
we engaged like minded organisations and, schools and communities
How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?
the members have learnt through participating and facilitating during community dialogue and training of trainers
What did your team learn?
That women's rights are human rights and also that traditional leaders likes to be incorporated and capacitated in terms of community development and championing gender equality. We have learnt that given the chance the girl child can do the same like their male counterparts and also that for a community to develop, women must be encoperated
What challenges did your team overcome?
the challenges of accessing the areas. some of the places are too remove that we spent most of our time going there instead of capacitating the communities.
How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?
we have engaged local community radios and schools for the success of this project. we believe that no one is a jack of all trades, we have to complement each other's effort
What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?
Hard work and perseverance can change people's lives.
Another gave issue of concern was about many laws , some back dating in 1980 before independence but valid still today, are not aligned with contemporary treaties and commitments on gender equality and SRHR in Chiredzi district in Masvingo Zimbabwe. Chiredzi is a district on the southern part of Zimbabwe which is characterized by deep cultural and religious beliefs which does not recognize the girl child. The district is patriarchy in such a way that women are treated as second class citizens and in most cases they are treated as decision takers not makers. The meeting was concluded as the organization is prepared to engage local schools and teachers before engaging policy makers, traditional leaders and all stakeholders. The activity was in support from our Great Zimbabwe University Girl Child Empowerment Club members.
Empowering communities through use of local media platformsGirl Child Empowerment of Zimbabwe with the support from Peace First embarked on a project which aims to strategically position young girls and women in rural marginalized Chiredzi. We have engaged the communities and traditional leaders with the intention of making them agents of change and champions of women’s rights which are also human rights. The project was a success because traditional leaders agreed to be agents of change and demanded that they must be meaningfully engaged during community dialogue meetings and other community activities. Girl Child Empowerment of Zimbabwe through its director have engaged and agreed to continue working with local community radio stations in moving the motion of creating equality and equity within the communities. Girl Child Empowerment Peace First project has signed a memorandum of understanding with HEVOI FM, and agreed that every Monday we are going to have a slot to discuss on the issues affecting young girls and women. The project was a success because everyone contributed and gave solutions towards our objectives. It was pathetic on the side of traditional leaders because project came to an end whilst they wanted more capacity building trainings and be peace first gender ambassadors.
The project is being implemented by Girl Child Empowerment of Zimbabwe and funded by Peace First. During the training of trainers it was pathetic that most girls are affected by deep rooted cultural and religious beliefs in the community, which does allow give them equal education opportunities as their male counterparts. On another sad note, most teachers are not child friendly and does not give the girl child any space to share issues which affect them and by day end many cases of school dropout are being witnessed. During the peer to peer training it was pointed out that access to SRHR information in the district is constrained by legal, cultural and policy barriers such as parental consent requirements for adolescents and youth including access to HIV/AIDS testing.
During the training it was also noted out that young girls in Chiredzi area are also faced with high cases of forced and child marriages, spousal consent requirements also put young women and girls at increased risk of high HIV infection, school dropout and forced marriages. On this case the organization noted that limited access to accurate, high quality, evidence-informed information, education and data on SRHR jeopardizes young girls and women’s education, health and survival especially in marginalized areas. The training proved to be a success it was pointed out that education supports capacity of young people to protect their health, rights and dignity and to stand up to discrimination and violence. One student pointed it out that for a community and a nation to be a success and to improve young girls and women’s access to education and SRHR services there must be change at policy level that is young people must be included and engaged during the development and implementation process of policy making. The meeting ended on a high note as the organization through its director Tatenda Maposa are going to engage duty bearers and traditional leaders on the next meeting in making sure that everyone in the community is a champion of women’s rights which are also human rights.
Peer to peer training at Ndarama High SchoolGirl Child Empowerment conducted a peer to peer training at Ndarama High School in Masvingo. The passion for lifting the banner of the girl child saw the organization carrying out a workshop with students. The peer to peer training was aimed at presenting some lectures on the issues affecting girl child in high schools and these includes gender discrimination, girl child abuse, rampant unreported rape cases, unequal education opportunities and age gap relationships. During the visit it was noted that a number of students are afraid to report any form of abuse to their teachers as they at times have sour relationships. During the workshop it was also said that age gap relationships are the engine driving to the spread of epidemic and pandemic diseases. It was also pointed out that age gap relationships does not only left permanent scars of being misused but they can as well leave you with incurable diseases, fatherless children and sadly no career prospects for the girl child. The issue of age gap relationship is one of the topic presented and was well received with utmost zeal by the students as stakeholders. More than 250 students attended the peer to peer training workshop and it was so interactive to an extent that a number of participates have started coming to us with their different issues affecting them. Horror stories were narrated by the students in regard to how abuse is being carried out in the streets, at home and as well as in the process of learning.
For the purposes of attaining equal education opportunities, the Girl Child Empowerment of Zimbabwe gave away sanitary pads to all outstanding participants, and some were given to the school senior lady to help students at school. The director of the organization Maposa Tatenda vowed that he is going to work with likeminded organizations and all stakeholders in making sure that young girls are strategically positioned and able to articulate their individual rights. Ndarama high school senior teacher thanked the organization for the well-done job and she further urged girls and boys to work extra hard in their studies and avoid sugar daddies because they can hinder their academic progress.