First Lady ups fight for the girl child

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

“The girl child is faced with a lot of pres­sures from dif­fer­ent sec­tors of the so­ci­ety, from within the house­hold to the com­mu­nity and so­ci­ety at large. Our girl-chil­dren need ex­tra care and sup­port through a lis­ten­ing ear.”

She said only en­gage­ment with the girl child would im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

“The girl child is more vul­ner­a­ble. Not that we are to dis­crim­i­nate the boy child but spe­cial at­ten­tion needs to be given to the girl child as the most dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren are girls. I hereby come up with a pro­gramme “First Lady and the girl-child” where I would like to meet girls of school go­ing age and have an in­ter­face with them in an open en­vi­ron­ment which al­lows the girls to open up and share their real life ex­pe­ri­ences,” added the First Lady. She said the girl child must be em­pow­ered. “The fo­cus would be to come up with so­cial and eco­nomic so­lu­tions for the girl child in or­der to im­prove on their assertive­ness, at­ti­tude to life, ed­u­ca­tion, life skills as well as mak­ing in­formed de­ci­sions and be­ing well dis­ci­plined. The girl child is part of our na­tion’s fu­ture cit­i­zens and we can­not just watch and ex­pect a good fu­ture for them when we do not in­ter­vene at this point in time,” said Amai Mnan­gagwa.

She said there was need for a par­a­digm shift in the man­ner the na­tion treats the girl child.

“In or­der for us to at­tain a pros­per­ous up­per­mid­dle in­come econ­omy by 2030, we need to have a par­a­digm shift in the way we have been do­ing busi­ness. En­gage­ment with the girl child to hear from them and come up with in­formed in­ter­ven­tions is one way to usher our girls to up­per mid­dle in­come econ­omy by 2030. This can be achieved suc­cess­fully if we work to­gether as a team and brain­storm on this pro­gramme,” said Amai Mnan­gagwa.

She cited early child mar­riages, teenage preg­nan­cies, HIV and Aids in­fec­tions and school drop outs as some of the chal­lenges fac­ing the girl child.

“This is re­sult­ing in the girl child’s fu­ture be­ing jeop­ar­dised and in most cases there are few girls who are get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to get out of such pits they would have fallen into. It is there­fore crit­i­cal that we en­gage our girl child from a ten­der age and di­a­logue with them on these is­sues to come up with prac­ti­cal and last­ing so­lu­tions,” said Amai Mnan­gagwa.

She urged co­or­di­na­tion among stake­hold­ers in the fight for the rights of the girl child.

“I in­tend to roll out the first ac­tiv­ity of en­gag­ing girls of school go­ing age. So­ci­ety needs to ac­cept that the chal­lenges the girl child is fac­ing need a joint ef­fort of var­i­ous stake­hold­ers. To­gether as a team we can make great im­pact in ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges be­ing faced by our girls. I am start­ing the first in­ter­face meet­ing with the girls here in Harare next month. The ob­jec­tive is to raise aware­ness on the need for the so­ci­ety to see the value of the girl child,” she said.

“This ac­tiv­ity marks the be­gin­ning of a se­ries of in­ter­faces that would be held coun­try­wide to en­sure that all the girls across the coun­try are reached.”

Or­gan­i­sa­tions which at­tended the meet­ing pledged sup­port.

African Union Am­bas­sador for end­ing early child mar­riages Mrs Nyaradzai Gum­bonz­vanda said the First Lady had set the tone for 2019 in fight­ing early mar­riages.

“You have set the tone for 2019 for our in­ten­tions, for pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of re­sources and for im­ple­men­ta­tion of poli­cies,” she said.

Mrs Gum­bonz­vanda said she was a prod­uct of early mar­riage and urged author­i­ties to stop it.

Prin­ci­pal di­rec­tor in the Min­istry of Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Ms Kwadzanai Nya­nungo thanked the First Lady for the ini­tia­tive.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Min­istry of Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment, Mrs Martha Muguti, said her min­istry was com­mit­ted to ad­dress­ing chal­lenges fac­ing the girl child.

The chal­lenge in­clude shortage of ac­com­mo­da­tion for girls at ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

“Let us start by ad­dress­ing these is­sues from a fam­ily set up. Girls are not born to be mar­ried. Par­ents and guardians must stop com­mer­cial­is­ing mar­riage,” she said.

Women Af­fairs, Com­mu­nity, Small and Medium En­ter­prises De­vel­op­ment act­ing sec­re­tary Air Com­modore Ivan Dumba said his min­istry would work to­wards op­er­a­tional­is­ing the na­tional ac­tion plan to end child mar­riages. The ac­tion plan was launched last month. It seeks to in­ten­sify ef­forts to­wards end­ing early child mar­riages. FI­NANCE and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter, Pro­fes­sor Mthuli Ncube has in­creased Par­lia­ment’s bud­get by 80 per­cent af­ter MPs from across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide were united in de­mand­ing an in­crease.

The Par­lia­ment of Zim­babwe had ini­tially been al­lo­cated US$101 mil­lion in the 2019 bud­get, but fol­low­ing MPs de­mands the fig­ure was raised to $145 mil­lion, from last year’s $80 mil­lion, an 81 per­cent in­crease.

The leg­is­la­tors put up a united front as they made de­mands dur­ing the re­cent bud­get de­bate in the Na­tional Assem­bly lead­ing to the in­crease in their al­lo­ca­tion.

Prof Ncube ini­tially in­creased the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion to $120 mil­lion from $101 but the leg­is­la­tors would have none of it.

“I want to re­port back to hon­ourable mem­bers and I hope they will be pleased that we have cau­cused and re­flected on the Vote for Par­lia­ment. There­fore, I pro­pose that the in­crease from this year’s bud­get of US$80mil­lion be 50 per­cent , that means that the bud­get for Par­lia­ment for 2019 is now at US$120m, there is an ex­tra of US$19 mil­lion on the ini­tial pro­posal of US$101 mil­lion which will also cater for the con­stituency in­for­ma­tion cen­tres,” said Prof Ncube,

How­ever the leg­is­la­tors seemed not sat­is­fied with the new bud­get al­lo­ca­tion and de­manded more.

MDC-Al­liance Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda, said Par­lia­ment should be al­lo­cated noth­ing less than $163 mil­lion.

Mutare Cen­tral MP (MDC Al­liance) Mr In­no­cent Gonese said it was high time Par­lia­ment stood on its own rather than de­pend on the benev­o­lence of de­vel­op­ment part­ners.

Chegutu West leg­is­la­tor (Zanu PF) Cde Dex­ter Nduna sug­gested that MPs get money in­stead of coupons as they un­dergo de­hu­man­is­ing con­di­tions when col­lect­ing them.

“We have about 270 Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment here. This is 210 elected and 60 pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tives and ev­ery Thurs­day, they go un­der de­hu­man­is­ing con­di­tions where they have to get coupons and they go into a queue where an ac­coun­tant dis­trib­utes those coupons in a man­ual way.

My sug­ges­tion is that, let that money go into our ac­counts and make sure that we do not leave any­thing to chance and make sure that Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment do not go un­der de­hu­man­is­ing con­di­tions,” said Cde Nduna.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Prof Ncube ac­ceded to the de­mands by in­creas­ing the bud­get to $145 mil­lion.

“First of all let me thank the hon­ourable mem­bers for their spir­ited and rightly spir­ited con­tri­bu­tions about the role of Par­lia­ment; its over­sight role and their re­source needs. Af­ter cau­cus­ing and re­flect­ing with my staff who help me man­age the bud­get, I now pro­pose to in­crease the Vote for Par­lia­ment up to $145 mil­lion,” said Prof Ncube.

The leg­is­la­tors have also de­manded an in­crease in their al­lowances, say­ing they play an im­por­tant role in the run­ning of the coun­try.

The mem­bers of the House of Assem­bly have de­manded that they be served three full-course meals a day, plus dessert while at­tend­ing Par­lia­ment.

They also want Par­lia­ment to pro­vide gym fa­cil­i­ties or to pay mem­ber­ship and sub­scrip­tion fees for them at sports clubs for recre­ational pur­poses.

The 2019 Na­tional bud­get sailed through with mi­nor changes to bud­get al­lo­ca­tions for most Min­istries and now awaits ac­cent by Se­nate. — @ Aux­il­iaK

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