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An Educated Girl Is A Protected Girl, End Gender-Based Violence: ECIS

Panelists at ECIS meeting to commemorate 16 days of activism against GBV

Every Child In School (ECIS), a movement that contributed immensely to the enactment of the new education amendment act, on 25 November 2020 commemorated the 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence with emphasis on the power of education in ending this scourge against children especially girls and young women.

“We celebrate the government of Zimbabwe which responded to ECIS calls to enact laws and policies that would enable children, especially girls to have access to state-funded education. In 2019 the government put in place the secretary’s circular 3 of 2019, as a response to ECIS calls for such a policy. 

“In 2020  the President signed into law the new education amendment act of 2019. Since 2017 ECIS had been lobbing the parliament and the ministry for such laws,” said Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, the Director of Tag A Life International who is the covener of ECIS Zimbabwe.

As ECIS joins in the commemoration of this year’s 16 days against gender-based violence under the theme; ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’, it is calling upon the government to dedicate practical resources to ensure every child access to education, by building adequate schools and ensuring schools are adequately resourced to promote quality education according to agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals with an enmphasis on goal 4 and 5. 

“We are more concerned than ever,  that more girls are being reportedly unable to return to school due to pregnancies during the Covid-19 lockdowns. We urge the government to move deliberately in ensuring mobilization of children to go back to school during Covid-19, and that the new act is being implemented. Ensuring every child has access to state-funded education will eliminate GBV against children especially girls and young women, as well as youth in general. As we commemorate the 16 days of activism this year, let us remember that ‘An Educated Girl Is A Protected Girl.”

Speaking during a plenary session during the celebrations at the Cresta Lodge in Harare, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, a researcher for the Rozaria Memorial Trust praised ECIS for doing a wonderful job over the years of pushing for the policy and the education law allowing children to stay in school despite of their poor economic backgrounds.

“We celebrate what TaLI and partners have done. A critical component of girls and young women’s protection being education. Girls from the community I work in Murehwa and Shamva with Rozaria Memorial want the world to know that Covid-19 just amplified the issues that were there of the ‘haves and the haves not’.

“Discrimination and lack of resources for rural and poor girls simply got amplified but they are not new. What needs to happen is to have every girl have access to connectivity, internet, electricity, water, life skills such as the ability to compete for opportunities like anybody else including being able to write CVs. They must get information that enables them to compete for opportunities,” Gumbonzvanda said. 

Clement Nhliziyo, the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI) Programmes Manager said he celebrates ECIS as they worked hard to ensure that the laws were put in place with multiple partners to advance access to state funded basic education. 

He said what is critical now are the funding mechanisms to ensure that the state has subsidized the schools, has built infrastructure as the country lags behind with more than 2000 schools for every child to have access to state funded basic education.

“Currently we have schools that still do not meet the required guidelines such as water to open, we are worried about the Covid-19 infections in schools and there is a need for a recovery plan from covid-19 to ensure every child has access to this new law.

“The government and partners must ensure a sound and robust funding system to fulfill the state-funded education as compared to the current education allocation that is mainly cushioning personnel salaries in the ministry as compared to also adequately funding learners welfare,” Nhliziyo said.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende