Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe says Zimbabwe has made great strides in promoting gender equality but implored the nation to consolidate these gains by continuing to protect the girl child.
In a speech read on her behalf by Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe at a Zimbabwe Head Girls Leadership Summit in Harare yesterday, Amai Mugabe said Zimbabwe was a signatory to various international statutes that sought to protect, develop, empower and educate children particularly the girl child.
Amai Mugabe, who is also the Zanu-PF Secretary for Women’s Affairs, quoted former South African president Nelson Mandela who once said a nation was judged by the way it treated its children.
“It is against this background that all of us have a duty to ensure that our children (girls) grow up in an environment where they feel safe and have access to quality education and health,” she said .
“The Constitution of Zimbabwe does not discriminate. It recognises issues of gender equality, therefore the boy children are not left out. As a signatory to international treaties and conventions, Zimbabwe has shown strong commitment to ensure that equality is the core of our values.
“As the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I have made it one of my priorities to invest in the education and empowerment of women in Zimbabwe.”
Amai Mugabe hailed all stakeholders from the public and private sectors and the civil society for coming together with an initiative that sought to empower the girl child.
She said the empowerment of women began with empowerment of the girl child and the youth.
The First Lady also advised head girls of the etiquette expected of them.
“Do not lag behind. Good head girls always do what is appropriate. They give orders and they also obey orders from their superiors. Therefore, you should always lead by example. As we are living in a world of technology, try your level best to administer technology than you being administered by it.
“When you are in the school premises, put your cellphones on silent. Never accommodate dirty messages and pornographic pictures or videos on your cellphones. Do not allow technology to destroy your life, be yourself,” she said.
Amai Mugabe said it was disheartening that the world over, women had to contend with a lot of challenges from childhood to adulthood.
Some of the challenges, she said, were to do with girls’ school attendance with indications that they still lagged behind boys as well as being subjected to human trafficking.
“Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development continues to create a positive environment for girls so that they, as citizens, can reach their fullest potential.
“The empowerment and emancipation of women as a developmental agenda starts with the girl child, fundamentally to achieve these goals, education and leadership skills development are key to enable women to play a leading role in transforming our economy,” said Amai Mugabe.
She said there had been an alarming increase in the number of girls infected with HIV with adolescence at high risk of contracting the deadly virus due to their low social status which results in them being subjected to unprotected sex.
The summit was attended by representatives of different institutions and ministries in Zimbabwe.