Speech by Kudzai Taranhike the Junior Mayoress of the Bulawayo Junior City Council for the Day of the Girl

The principle of “All children, all rights is still much too far to be a reality”, these words were said by the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in the year 2000 and yet this has still proven to be true.

A pleasant day to you all, I am the Junior Mayoress of the City of Bulawayo Kudzai Taranhike. It is an honor to be standing in your presence as it is a day declared to celebrate the existence of the girl child.

Ladies and gentlemen today, the world has chosen to focus on girls like me and I’m happy that we’ve come together to commemorate this very important day. I’m however pained by the numerous challenges that we as girls face each and every day of our lives. More than 110 million children women worldwide are currently not going to school, and surprisingly enough 60% of these are girls and my question is why? Even worse, research has shown that in some Sub-Saharan countries, adolescent girls have HIV infection rates of up to five times higher than adolescent boys. Ladies and gentlemen I would like to pose a question to you right now. Why is it that girls are facing such painful situations in their lives?

The key reason to girls facing all these problems is because of their vulnerability as compared to the opposite sex. We as girls are exposed to danger and various forms of abuse like child labor because we are unable to defend ourselves. This is something that I believe should come to an end.

Find the full speech here

Tomorrow is the International Day of the Girl, running under the theme "Innovating for Girls Education". This is the second ever commemoration of the International Day of the Girl after last year's commemoration which focused on ending child marriage.

Recognizing the need for fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward, the 2013 International Day of the Girl Child will address the importance of new technology, but also innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves.

All UN agencies, Member States, civil society organizations, and private sector actors have potential tools to innovate for and with girls to advance their education. Examples of possible steps include:

  • Improved public and private means of transportation for girls to get to school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes;
  • Collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls;
  • Provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational education programs;
  • Corporate mentorship programs to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work;
  • Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles;
  • Deploying mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas.

This day is a call to young people to come up with new ideas to address the educational challenges facing girls today. Youth must rise to remove barriers to girls education which include harmful cultural practices like child marriage and gender inequalities fueling boy-child preference and exclusion of girls. New approaches must be adopted to increase funds to enable girls education, including through the availing of scholarships and bursaries for underprivileged children.

The Bulawayo Youth Development Organization recently launched a scholarship fund for young leaders which will benefit young women and men in the city of Bulawayo and the country as a whole. 60% of the scholarships will go toward female youth leaders, in a move aimed at support a culture of active citizenry in young women and men in their communities.

Join us as we raise funds for the program by liking our Facebook Page and joining activities we'll post on the platform.

(Originally posted in The Sunday Mail)

by Sharon Kavhu

The Ministry of Health and Child Care is pushing for the introduction of a legal framework to support the distribution of contraceptives to “adolescents” aged between 10 and 24 under an ongoing

initiative that officials say is designed to curtail teenage pregnancies. Among the contraceptives are birth control pills, implants, injectables and condoms.

Presently, 91 centres countrywide are already dispensing contraceptives to adolescents through the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC). However, a legal framework is required to align laws concerning sexual relations involving minors with the policy.

In an interview last week, the director of family health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Bernard Madzima, said authorities took the decision following a sharp increase in teenage pregnancies and a high maternal mortality rate.

Dr Madzima said those who visit designated dispensaries are first counselled before the contraceptives are issued. The World Health Organisation defines adolescents as those between the ages of 10 and 24.

“The current framework for the National Adolescence Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy (ASRH) for 2010 to 2015 allows adolescents to access contraceptives although the country’s legislation sues any individual who indulges in sexual activities with a girl under the age of 16.

“Statistics from the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) and Ministry of Health and Child Welfare parastatals show that the number of teenage pregnancies is high and continues to increase.

“We are concerned as a ministry. So, therefore, we want to strengthen the ASRH programmes.”
Dr Madzima said many sexually active adolescents hardly visit youth centres, fearing legal and policy contradictions and would only freely access contraceptives once the legal framework is in place.

He said the ministry could not ignore the existence of sexually active youngsters given the numerous teenage pregnancies.

“Most adolescents are being sexually active. Some have actually gone on 
to become parents,” he said.

Commenting on the policy, ZNFPC technical services director Dr Edmore Munongo said the council has set up 91 centres to offer “youth-friendly services”, which also enable adolescents to access the contraceptives.

Of these centres, 65 are located at hospitals while the remainder comprises stand-alone sites. They provide counselling, HIV and Aids testing and also treat sexually transmitted infections.

Dr Munongo said boys constituted 60 percent of visitors to the centres.
“In a bid to implement the Ministry of Health and Child Care ASRH framework, which advocates adolescent access to contraceptives, we have so far managed to put up 26 youth centres and 65 youth corner centres countrywide.

“Friendly youth corner centres are established at Government hospitals while the youth centres are built outside the hospitals, usually in remote areas.

“The majority of the adolescents showing interest in the youth centres are boys as they constitute at least 60 percent of our clients.

“Girls are the most vulnerable. This is mainly due to culture and social expectations. This is a challenge for us to strengthen our programme. So, there is need to convince parents first through the enactment of a law. Most of them (females) prefer the pill method. However, we encourage them to take double contraceptives where they use both condoms and other contraceptive methods.”

According to the United Nations Population Fund, adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 constitute a quarter of the 960 Zimbabwean females who die as a result of pregnancy-related complications annually.

The Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey shows teenage pregnancies have increased from 21 percent between 2005 and 2006 to 24 percent between 2010 and 2011. The Ministry of Health and Child Care subsequently launched the ASRH (2010-2015) programme to reduce teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections through increased ASRH knowledge and access to contraceptives.

Sexuality, reproductive health and HIV and Aids consultant Dr Caroline Maposhere said every parent would not want his or her child to indulge in sex before marriage. She said it was, however, a fact that some young people were sexually active.

“As a parent, I would not want my child to be sexually active before marriage, but, in reality, there are single adolescents who are having sex and such individuals need to have more knowledge on sexual reproductive health,” said Dr Maposhere.

“It is essential for these adolescents to access counselling and contraceptives. 
“For instance, currently, teenagers above 16 years can access contraceptives on their own while those below 16 should access with parental guidance.

“Such adolescents need to take responsible decisions after being equipped with enough information on the repercussions of their activities.”

Zimbabwe Youth Council communications officer Mr Innocent Katsande said the council was keen to participate in decisions that the ministry makes as long as they were protecting youths and their health.

“As a council and on behalf of the Junior Parliament, we are pushing for abstinence among adolescents because it is the safest method of combating teenage pregnancy and STIs. We also encourage our stakeholders to put value on the educational system so that adolescents may grow with cultural values which dissuade them from being sexually active before marriage,” said Mr Katsande.

PicturePicture courtesy of Radio Dialogue
Bulawayo has a new Mayor. Ward 3 Councillor Martin Moyo (left) has been elected as the new Mayor of the City of  Bulawayo with Gift Banda (right) elected as his deputy. The pair will lead the new team of 29 councilors which was sworn in last week in the council chambers.

His election put an end to the speculation and on-going conflict between the Ministry of Local Government and the MDC-T over the leadership of the council with the MDC-T opting for the appointment of a non-councillor, Mandla Nyathi and the Ministry insisting on the election of a Councillor for the Mayoral position.

The new council and its leadership has an uphill task as the city battles to provide water and satisfactory services to its residents. The council also faces a demanding youth population that seeks recreational facilities, health services, job opportunities and skills training amongst many needs.

We wait to see what will come of this new arrangement, and whether or not it will do justice to the electorate. Maybe this is the team that will restore the city to its legendary status as a 'City of Kings and Queens' or we are set for a downfall to insecurity, mismanagement and multi-level poverty. Time will tell...

Find out more about the election here

On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

The theme of International Youth Day 2013 is "Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward ."

Young people make up a significant share of the global number of international migrants. In 2010, there were an estimated 27 million international young migrants. While migration can often offer valuable opportunities and contribute to the development of communities and society at large, it can also pose risks and lead to unacceptable situations, including discrimination and exploitation.

The 2013 observance of International Youth Day will raise awareness of the opportunities and risks associated with youth migration, share knowledge and information stemming from recent research and analysis on this topic, and engage young people in discussions on their migration experiences. Find out more on the day at this link http://www.un.org/en/events/youthday/