It is crucial for Zimbabwe to continue providing meaningful support to the girl-child, enabling young women to realize their rights and unlock their full potential. This call comes as statistics reveal that the country is grappling with one million child brides.
These remarks were made by Ms. Precious Babbage, a representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), during the International Day of the Girl Child event organized by the Lily of Valleys Home of Hope at Rupere Primary School in Marondera last week. Ms. Babbage stood in for UNICEF's representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale.
She emphasized the significant challenges that young girls encounter daily, despite progress in gender equality. Ms. Babbage noted issues spanning health, nutrition, education, skills, gender-based violence, child marriage, and equal opportunities. She highlighted concerning data, such as the fact that 22 percent of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have started childbearing, one-third of maternal deaths occur in adolescents aged 10-19, over 85,000 adolescents aged 10-19 are living with HIV, 4.1 percent of girls aged 13-17 experience sexual violence, and Zimbabwe is home to over one million child brides, with one in three young women having been married in childhood.
Ms. Babbage urged all stakeholders to intensify their efforts in supporting young girls nationwide. She commended the Private Voluntary Organization Lily of Valley Home of Hope Foundation for its support to young girls, particularly in rural areas.
She expressed UNICEF's appreciation for the organization's work in advancing children's rights and empowering adolescent girls and young women to pursue their life goals free from gender-based violence and poverty.
Mrs. Fortunate Kufakunesu, the founder and director of Lily of Valley Home of Hope, encouraged young girls to make the most of the advice they received to become better individuals. She shared her own journey and the transformative impact of support on her life, emphasizing the potential for positive change in the lives of special girls.
International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated on October 11 each year, aims to recognize the significance, power, and potential of adolescent girls. This year's theme was "Invest in Girls' Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being."