In Zimbabwe, rape is endemic, with more than 20% of women reporting that their first sexual encounter was forced and a 30% of married women live with physical violence. Girls are taught nothing about their bodies or reproductive health. Rather, they are trained to crippling obedience, even as discriminatory inheritance laws deprive them of their homes and law enforcement ignores their plight. With unemployment running at 94 percent, sexual exploitation and early marriage have become the rule.
We provide them with tutoring, leadership opportunities and training in modern skills like web design, welding and construction, sewing as a business and raising a market garden. To move them beyond dependency on us, we plan to create small businesses based on the skills they've acquired. They will operate under our Trust's supervision for one year and then move out on their own. The first business planned is ZimGirls Welding, taking advantage of the huge market in burglar bars and gates.
Our goal isn't only to help the girls we work with to create better futures. Think of the cascading effect of 100 girls fighting back against gender-based violence, 100 girls working in non-traditional fields, 100 girls training their sisters and cousins to new skills, new opportunities, new ways of thinking about themselves and their futures. We expect that these girls will become role models for a new generation of Zimbabweans, both male and female.