The Continued Covid induced Lockdowns in the Country continued driving the plight of Women and Young Girls in Matobo District into more challenging situations as income levels dropped due to the worsening macro-economic situations in the country. Matobo, a District punctuated by high levels of female unemployment, experiencing plunging economic outcomes as cross border trade, a major contributor to the local women’s economy was negatively affected. The status quo continues being a key driver of factors leading to women’s and Girls’ vulnerability both economically and socially.
During the last Quarter, program implementation areas experienced 10 cases of pregnancy among high school girls, all linked to artisanal miners. Cases of Sexual Violence and statutory rape were also reported in the program areas. This was due to the increase in the number of unregulated illegal gold mining in the area by artisanal miners. the law enforcement agents seem to be turning a blind eye to the situation as perpetrators are not brought to justice and continue inciting acts of sexual violence to vulnerable Women and Girls. Often the offenders who impregnant minors are highly mobile and move on to other mining areas, leaving the girls and their families (who are often very poor) to take care of the children. The waiting young Waiting mothers need preparation kits and sanitary wear to use after delivery.
During the Quarter, the HOCIC team managed to reach Young Women and girls through comprehensive sexual health education in conjunction with the National AIDS Council. 100 young women and Girls in Secondary and tertiary institutions were sensitized on Sexual Hygiene, Accessing Sexual Reproductive Health Services and Condom Use education. During the Seminar, Girls also noted the challenges that they face such the continuous rising cost of female health amenities especially to unemployed young women and girls.
In the coming Quarter, HOCIC envisages to continue fundraising for the Pad Drive through the GlobalGiving Platform. The team also plans to carry out operational research on how to reduce the cost of Pads and Sanitary Wear for Girls in Rural Zimbabwe. HOCIC believes that sanitary wear should be easily accessible to all Women and Girls. HOCIC will also continue to train Young Women and Girls on sustainable low capital Livelihoods and Business in order to increase their self-reliance.
The advent of COVID19 and resulting lockdowns has unfortunately seen an increase of pregnant teenagers in Zimbabwe. At one secondary school in Matobo District where the project is being implemented; when schools re-opened after lockdown the headmaster reported that at least 40 girls were pregnant. This highlights the sexual abuse that is ongoing and which sems to have escalated during lockdowns. Most parents and caregivers lost their jobs and source of livelihood during COVID19. There has also been an increase of illegal gold miners in Matobo who are being accused of impregnating the girls. Unfortunately, the illegal gold miners do not stay in one place for long, they are not being arrested as they leave as soon as they have committed a crime. The parents and caregivers on the other hand are being blamed for sending the young girls to the illegal gold mines to sale different wares in order to get an income. The innocent girls then fall prey to the miners who lure them with money and they are sexually abused. Once pregnant they fail to locate the offenders. The girls being from poor families cannot afford to buy any baby preparation stuff or sanitary wear to use soon after delivering the baby.
Through the pad drive, the HOCIC team managed to procure and get menstrual hygiene items which included 60 dignity kits (disposable pads and cotton wool, soap and towels), then proceeded to distribute these to the pregnant teenage girls in Matobo. Besides the dignity kits, the girls got Baby Preparation material such as baby blankets, baby dishes, buckets, thermometers and baby clothes. After the distributions a dialogue followed on encouraging the girls to go back to school, they were urged not to be school drop-out as having an education and a career would help them secure a brighter future despite what would have happened to them now. The girls noted the challenges they are facing as pregnant teens, some had already given birth and they stated challenges of having sources of income to support their young babies. They then suggested that skills training in various livelihoods like Dressmaking, Hairdressing, Art and Craft and Detergents would be welcome as it would also help them have some income generating projects. The distributions followed strict COVID 19 regulations.
In the coming quarter, the team envisages to continue with the pad drive campaign and is appealing to the GlobalGiving Donors to continue supporting the initiative as they are making a difference. Moreover, the team plans to do more sustainable initiatives such as procuring reusable sanitary pads, training the young girls to make reusable pads and training the girls on different livelihood skills and to start up small businesses so they become
A pose from a happy recipient of the dignity pack.
In the month of July, the GlobalGiving team continued with the pad drive initiative to raise funds and purchase sanitary ware. Through the pad drive, the team managed to procure and secure menstrual hygiene items which included ninety-three packets of disposable sanitary pads, forty-four face towels and fifty green bars of soap (thereafter menstrual hygiene kit). The team then proceeded to identify 30 adolescent girls from Matobo district in Ward 1 (Sihwaba Village) who are economically disadvantaged and were assisted. The Community Facilitator assisted in the identification of these young girls.
The Project Officer had a discussion with the adolescent girls before distributing the menstrual hygiene kits. The discussion was centred on life choices, menstrual hygiene, COVID 19 and the vaccine. The young girls were very vocal and despite the challenges they are currently facing they seem to have hopes and dreams they want to achieve. Some want to become nurses, businesswomen, farmers, teachers to mention but a few. The Project Officer encouraged and motivated them that they could become whatever they want if they put their mind and heart to it. She further reminded them to unite, love and support each other as girls as it is the only way to conquer the world.
During the menstrual hygiene discussion, it was noted that indeed the girl child faces triple the challenges or obstacles before they even try to manoeuvre the world. For example, an individual who comes from a disadvantaged background cannot afford to purchase sanitary ware and even other necessities for them to utilise during their menstrual month cycle. Some of the girls indicated that they had to abscond from school during their “time of the month” because of lack of proper sanitary ware, period pains and the general feeling of being “unclean”. Moreover, some use old cloths which are unhealthy especially when they are dyed, not washed, and stored well as it may cause irritation or cancer. Therefore, the hygiene kits they received were going to go a long way and they appreciated the gesture. Each girl managed to walk away with three packets of sanitary pads, a face towel and a bar of soap.
The negative impacts of the Corona Virus have been felt by all corners of the globe. Information about the Corona Virus and its vaccine has been disseminated through radio stations, news, newspapers, the internet, social media, posters and community dialogues. The young girls have heard about the Corona Virus and the vaccine however, there are still sceptical when it comes to the safety of the vaccine. The team managed to share the benefits of getting vaccinated and emphasized that it was their choice to decide whether they would want to get it or not. The Project Officer closed the discussion with a popular saying “prevention is better than cure”.
In the next coming month, the team envisages continuing with the pad drive campaign and is appealing to the GlobalGiving Donors to continue supporting the initiative as they are making a difference. No amount is too small or too big, as it goes a long way. Moreover, the team plans to do more sustainable initiatives such as procuring reusable sanitary pads, training the young girls to make reusable pads, supporting the young girls to start up small businesses so they become economically independent.
Young lady contributing to the COVID 19 discussion
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