. By Kudakwashe Vhenge
United Nations has bemoaned the plight of girls in the country which has seen them being the most affected by the country’s socio-economic challenges.
This has seen them dropping out of school as a result of adolescent pregnancies and other sexual violations.
United Nations Resident coordinator Ms Maria Ribeiro said this during the launch of Plan International Zimbabwe’s country Strategy 2020-2024 at a local hotel in the capital yesterday.
Ribeiro lamented over an array of violations that girls are exposed to and said it is retrogressive to the growth of communities.
She called for urgent action, robust partnerships and ground-breaking solutions in order to mitigate most of the challenges that are being faced by girls in the country.
“Every day, girls are taken out of school, married far too young and subjected to violence. This is a violation of their rights, and a huge waste of potential with serious consequences.
“Yet we know that investing in girls has the potential to transform the lives of entire communities and countries. These challenges call for urgent action, strong partnerships and innovative solutions,” she said.
Ribeiro further indicated that the country’s adolescence pregnancy is on the rise and girls living in the rural areas are the most affected as compared to their urban counterparts.
“Although fertility rates amongst women aged 20 years and above in Zimbabwe have fallen over the last two decades, adolescence rate is on the rise….Almost a quarter of adolescence girls aged between 15-19 years (24%) have started childbearing with rural adolescence girls aged 15-19 are more likely to became pregnant with (143 births per 1,000) girls as compared to their urban counterparts with (75 births),” she highlighted.
She however expressed confidence over Plan International Zimbabwe’s Country strategy-2020-2024 and assured that UN will continue to work with Plan international in order to alleviate humanitarian crisis in the country.
“I am pleased to note that Plan International‘s Country Strategy recognizes the need for strong partnerships and development humanitarian-peace nexus for an integrated response to emergency, recovery and development’s needs.
“I would like to underline that United Nations Development Systems and other relevant UN agencies will continue to partner with Plan International and other partners to deliver for children and girls particularly,” she added.
Director of Family Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Benard Madzima also weighed in assuring government’s commitment on focusing on adolescent girls and women in the country’s National HIV Strategy plan.
He also highlighted that Plan International Zimbabwe’s Country Strategy is in line with the country’s efforts.
“I have it on good authority that the next generation of the National HIV Strategy will also have focus on adolescence girls and young women as part of its priority target groups on prevention.
It is therefore an affirmation of the centrality of SRHR issues in our context that Plan International Zimbabwe’s new strategy has aligned itself to the national efforts,” he said.
Zimbabwe is currently facing an acute shortage of food and, as a result of last year’s deplorable rainy season in most rural areas whilst in the urban areas families’ disposable income has been depleted.
Rights defenders say child marriage, outlawed by the Zimbabwean constitutional court in 2016, has spiraled in the rural areas that constitute more than 60% of the country’s population as a result of the hunger and poverty.