Heather Charema in Chegutu
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka has urged stakeholders to join hands in fighting Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and prevent unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions among adolescents and young women. This, she said, will minimise school dropouts and sexually transmitted diseases in Zimbabwe.
Addressing stakeholders who attended the “My Gender Equal” kit launch by SAfAIDS at St Eric’s High School in Norton last week, Minister Mliswa-Chikoka said it was everyone’s duty to promote access to youth friendly sexual reproductive health information and services.
The tool kit, which is being rolled out under the Untying the Gender Knot programme by SAfAIDS, was pre-tested in Mberengwa, Nyanga and Chegutu districts over one year.
“Transforming adolescents and young people’s lives to access sexual reproductive health services requires all stakeholders to commit to the implementation of robust interventions that will enable us to produce tangible results,” said Minister Mliswa-Chikoka.
“I am happy to note that SAfAIDS and its partners in various fields of development work are working tirelessly in producing materials that can be used to achieve gender equality.
“However, gaps still exist in adolescent Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) prevention, ending teen pregnancies within the national policy environment.
“We have listened and witnessed how the Untying the Gender Knot programme has contributed towards reduced school dropouts due to teenage pregnancies and has promoted the reintegration of young mothers back into the school system through the implementation of the Circular P35 focusing on pregnancy amongst pupils and gender equality.
“As we are working towards achieving Vision 2030, as espoused by His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa, let us work together in closing the gaps on prevention of SGBV among adolescents, prevention of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions among adolescents and young women and access to youth friendly information and services.
“SAfAIDS has shown us innovation through this programme.
“I have no doubt that this will significantly contribute to improving young people’s Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) outcomes.
“This, together with Government support and community involvement, will make us win the future for our children.”