ZimRights statement on the International Day of the Girl Child

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ZimRights statement on the International Day of the Girl Child

ZimRights joins the world in commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the commemorations, which are a call to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges that they face around the world. This year’s theme “our time is now – our rights our future” is an apt reminder of the gaps that still exist in the quest to effectively empower the girl child.

ZimRights acknowledges the strides that have been made at policy level in Zimbabwe, to try and address the challenges that girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. The Zimbabwean Constitution under Chapter 4 and Sections 17, 80, and 85 all complement girl child empowerment. The National Development Strategy 1 also prioritises gender equality and empowerment. In addition, Zimbabwe is also party to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa among other International Conventions.

ZimRights, under one of its eight actions zones, the Women and Human Rights Action Zone, has been working with communities to empower girls and women. It has initiated community – led programmes to ensure the visibility of girls and women as well as building their capacity to champion human rights issues. It is against this background that ZimRights is concerned with the lack of political will to ensure the rights of girls in Zimbabwe are realised. Despite the existence of a robust policy framework and national human rights institutions, Zimbabwe continues to record embarrassing trends of flagrant violations to the rights of the girl child. For example, a 2019 survey on violence against children showed that 17% of girls experienced physical violence and 9% of girls experienced sexual violence in childhood. In 2021 ZIMSTAT recorded that 33.7% of girls aged below 18 were already married. In 2022, Zimbabwe has already recorded the death of two minors – in January Ferby Munyafi, aged 15, died from birth complications while in October, Nokutenda Hwaramba, aged 15, also died whilst giving birth. Both deaths were at religious shrines, under the watch of religious leaders who sanction child marriages.

ZimRights therefore makes the following calls;

  • That the Government of Zimbabwe fully implement statutes that promote and protect the rights of the girl child
  • That the Government of Zimbabwe increases girls’ access to justice through creating a conducive environment to enable perpetrators of violations against the girl child to be brought to justice – including bringing to justice, religious leaders who promote child marriages within their sects.
  • That all Zimbabweans work to change their perception of the role of girls in society and give girls the opportunity to develop their full potential as equal members in society.

Issued by the ZimRights Information Department