Commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, 10 October 2016
‘’We are joining the world today to eradicate one of the critical issues that affects a girl child, which is child marriages. Girls should rise up, resilient and not give up on the fight to gender equity’’, Honourable Minister Nyasha E Chikwinya.
SAfAIDS media desk, 11 October 2016 (SAfAIDS) - The Government of Zimbabwe joined the world in the commemoration of the International Day of the girl child. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Goals Progress = Girls’ progress”. SAfAIDS, as one of the stakeholders, took part in the commemoration which was held at the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. Girl representatives from Herentials College and Trust Academy gathered to be addressed by the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Nyasha E Chikwinya and her deputy,Abigal Damasani.The purpose of the commemoration was to reaffirm national commitment to realising the potential of the girl child
Young girls at the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.
In the minister’s speech, she confirmed that the Government of Zimbabwe is fully committed to the empowerment of the girl child through various strategies, including provision of education and by eradicating social, economic technological, political and economic barriers that hinder the girl child’s full potential.
The Honourable Minister was pleased to remind attendees that Zimbabwe’s Constitution (section 17) deals extensively with the rights of the girl child. On the issue of child marriages, she indicated that section 78 unequivocally establishes 18 years as the minimum age for marriage in line with the provisions of international law. The Constitution runs in accord with the voices of those Zimbabweans who participated in its development. The Honourable Minister stated that “’if Zimbabweans people say 18 years and above is the right age for marriage, who are you to deny the rights of the girl child?’’ Perpetrators and older men were reminded not to break the law set to protect the girl child.
At policy and programme levels, Zimbabwe also prioritises nutrition, HIV and AIDS and recognises the importance of gender mainstreaming to prevent marginalisation of the girl child. In conclusion, she reiterated that girls should receive equal treatment, care and support within the family and in society.
Young girls speaking out:
‘’As girls in Africa, we are raised as investmenst. When they see us, they see how much money they are going to get as lobola’’
‘’Get married, bear children and die’’ is not my key priority as a girl child. I am capable of better things that can match or exceed a boy child’s capabilities’’.
The young girls raised their concerns about how much they want their voices to be heard. Young girls are striving to eliminate child marriages, discrimination, physical and sexual violence.
It is not the duty of the government to protect the girl child, but parents and community leaders were advised to work together in protecting the girl child.