Restoring the Girl Child’s Dignity a Big Step towards Ending GBV
Organizing for Zimbabwe Trust joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. Commemorated under two different themes, ‘Leave No One behind: End Violence against Women and Girls’ and ‘Together we can end GBV in Education’, this year’s celebrations came at a time the world is fighting for women rights. Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, negatively persistent and degrading deprivation of human dignity and the right live a descent life.
It is a widely accepted reality to the fact that violence against women is the most extreme and unacceptable form of discrimination and abuse. According to UN report, out of 87 countries 19 percent of women between 15 and 49 years of age are said to have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Over the years we have realised that the world has been talking about all forms of violence but little has been said on lack of proper healthcare, especially sanitary wear which we strongly believe is the worst form of gender based violence. As we celebrate the 16 days, we have launched a campaign that seeks to advocate for the provision of subsidized or sanitary pads to school going rural girls and those from marginalised communities as a way of restoring their dignity and keeping them in school.
More than 62 million girls around the world have no access to education, a very sad development that requires collective effort from across all actors. In our previous research, averages of 4 in 5 girls in rural Zimbabwe do not go to school during menstruation. This clearly shows that the rights of these girls are being violated.
This year’s theme recognizes that discrimination and structural inequalities are perpetrated in a cycle of endless violence including in the private and public sphere and when young girls pursue their education. Gender based violence is also a constant threat in accessing the right to education because it is also present in public spaces, schools and homes. It is a major obstacle for the development and fulfillment of the universal human rights of young girls and women to access education
Women and girls in rural, farming and peri urban areas are at high risk of health hazards and have little access to education and economic opportunities. This compromises the global goals in eradicating any kind of discrimination against humanity. With the prolonging economic instability in Zimbabwe, economic opportunities continue to shrink and the situation is severe on women and girls. The income is for consumption hence violating their health rights.
Empowerment and protection of women and girls remain a priority to us and commitment by state and non-state actors should be emphasized in compliance and commitment towards the attainment of the sustainable development goals and the Agenda 2063. Back home, the Zimbabwean constitution section 81(f) provides for the right to education, health care services, nutrition and shelter for every child.
There is also need by the government to ensure the protection of the girl child against any form of violence. The government of Zimbabwe should copy the Zambian initiative of making sanitary pads accessible to all school girls. Lack of sanitary wear kills the esteem of the girl child hence limiting her development.
The empowerment of girls and protection against health rights violations increases the chances of women and girls to withstand and question gender related violence and discrimination. It is a universal challenge to every individual, community, nations and that of us to fight against any forms of gender related violence.