Praise Bvumbamera and Lionel Depute

Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world yesterday in commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child in a collective national effort to empower women and girls. Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Nyasha Chikwinya said the commemoration of the day renewed efforts to address girls and young women’s rights and emancipation.

“It is a day we annually reaffirm our national commitment to the eradication of all social, economic, technological, legal and political barriers that inhibit the girl child from achieving her full potential,” she said.

Minister Chikwinya said the Girls and Young Women Empowerment Framework had set out targets on five strategic areas of intervention pertinent to the young women, which included education, reproductive health, safety, leadership and economic development.

“As we implement programmes and interventions in these and other areas, we should be mindful of the need to address the unequal gender relations in our society that continue to perpetuate discrimination, marginalisation and violence against the girl child,” she said.

“It is important to note the importance of gender mainstreaming taking into consideration the interests of boys, men, women and girls with further consideration of the fact that girls are not a homogeneous group hence, the need for responsive, gender-based programming.”

She said Government had implemented legal and legislative policies to ensure that the girl child’s rights were recognised.

“The national economic blue-print Zim-Asset addresses a wide spectrum of the needs of the girl child, including issues of reproductive health and rights, economic empowerment, education and health in general, with particular focus on HIV and Aids, nutrition and maternal mortality,” said Minister Chikwinya.

Junior Councillor for Harare Province Tanya Mukiwa (18), said one of the most devastating scourges that affected girls that needed to be collectively fought against and eradicated was gender-based violence.

“We should also remember and be cognisant of the fact that gender-based violence is a social evil that can only be eradicated through the involvement of the whole nation,” she said.Section (78) of the Constitution unequivocally establishes 18 years as the minimum age of marriage in line with provisions of international law.

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