Stay in school, girls told

HARARE - The United States Embassy in Harare yesterday joined hands with a Mufakose private voluntary organisation Blossoms Children’s Community to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child.

Held at Glen View 1 High School under the theme “Educate a girl child change the world,” the celebrations focused at ending gender stereotyping, discrimination and violence.

Addressing hundreds of school children and teachers, US deputy public affairs officer Jillian Bonnardeaux said there was no limit to “what an empowered girl can do”.

“When a girl is educated the opportunities are unlimited for them but they will need the support of both men and boys without which they would be doomed. We need to work hard to end barriers to quality education for girls and bring an end to girl child marriages,” Bonnardeaux said.

“An empowered girl will improve herself, community and family,” she said.

According to Bonnardeaux, the US has assisted more than 84 million girls worldwide to access education, thereby empowering them against abuse.

Blossom Child Community executive director Pamhidzayi Mhongera, a former student of Glen View High 1 School, urged girls to delay sexual encounters and concentrate on education.

“Our message to you is very clear. Stay in school, I am a testimony to you today that good things can come from poor areas like this one. My mother used to sell tomatoes not far from here to get us to school.

“The problems you are facing today as girl children are not unique to you. They have always been there but there are concerted efforts to militate against them in order to make life easier for you,” Mhongera said.

Blossom Child Community was formed in 2005 and according to Mhongera, it caters for no less than 150 children in both primary and secondary schools across Harare’s poor western suburbs.

The community-based organisation works with orphans and vulnerable children in the provision of school materials and psyco-social support. It mobilises resources in partnership with donors, communities and the public sector for the benefit of children in areas within its reach, according to Mhongera.

Glen View High 1 School with 3 744 students is Zimbabwe’s biggest in terms of enrolment.

The United Nations General Assembly last year declared 11 October the International Day of the Girl Child in an effort to raise awareness around the abuse of girl children and end child marriages.

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