Harare, March 5, 2014-The U.S. State Department, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has provided $100,000 to Tag A Life International Trust (TaLI), an advocacy group for the rights of girls, to increase awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) among vulnerable youth and address its intersection with HIV/AIDS. The funding will enable TaLI to reach 300 schools and train 160 Community Peer Educators in four districts in Midlands province over the next two years. It is an expansion of a project which began in 2012, through the partnership of TaLI, the U.S. Embassy Harare and HIVOS
The project will be officially launched on Thursday March 6 at the Book Café from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. as part of a series of events organized by Pamberi Trust to recognize International Women’s Day. Panelists include the founder and director of TaLI, Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, the U.S. Embassy’s Counselor for Public Affairs Karen Kelley, and a representative from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, who will discuss the topic “It takes a Village to Raise a Safe Girl Child.”
According to the 2013 National Baseline Survey of the Experiences of Adolescents, nearly half of Zimbabwean girls face physical violence and one-third face sexual violence, yet only one in four alleged perpetrators of child abuse is ever arrested.
“We are excited about our continuing partnership with Tag A Life International, an organization working in Midlands Province with a proven track record of bringing together all parts of a community to address the issues of young girls,” said Karen Kelley, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy. “Over time, we have realized that the lack of access by girls to information and other resources can be a significant impediment in addressing GBV. Through this project, we hope to increase understanding and awareness of GBV and, over time, greatly reduce HIV infections and other vulnerabilities in girls in Zimbabwean communities.”
TaLI works with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development; the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education; Social Welfare (Department of Social Services); the National Arts Council; police; local government authorities; and other non-governmental groups.
“These issues require a holistic approach. Boys should be educated about respecting girls and women because boys have an important part to play in ending violence and discrimination against girls. We should catch them young,” said Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, the founder and Executive Director of TaLI. “Most violations against girls begin within the family with mothers and fathers perpetuating sexist religious and cultural norms that hinder girls’ development, like denying them an education, or socializing girls to prepare primarily for marriage. Victims of child marriage – both voluntary and forced – have a heightened vulnerability to HIV because of gender-based violence and lack of exposure and knowledge by both the guardians and the girls to fight it.”
In addition to the TaLI project, the U.S. Embassy supports several initiatives aimed at eliminating GBV and mitigating the vulnerability of children who are affected by the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other pressing social issues. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States continues to support the Zimbabwean national response to address the sexual and physical abuse of children through the Gender-Based Violence Incentive Fund and Together for Girls Initiative.
Through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-Zimbabwe), the United States also supports the Families Matter! program to provide support to community-based parenting clubs to prevent and respond to GBV. CDC-Zimbabwe, through its partner Research Triangle International (RTI), has funded nine local civil society organizations to develop and strengthen their capacity to conduct relevant gender research in Zimbabwe and to use data and evidence based approaches for advocating to the national, provincial and district level governments to prioritize gender-based activities. CDC- Zimbabwe is also implementing the evaluation of an added GBV module to the evidence based curriculum Families Matter! This curriculum provides tools to parents and caregivers of tween children (Ages 9-12) to discuss sexuality and GBV, leading to improved reporting of GBV incidents and better access to services for victims of GBV.
The TaLI project “Making the World a Safe Place for the Girl Children” launched in Shurugwi District last month and saw students and teachers from 76 schools trained to run empowerment clubs. During the provincial project launch, the organization also reached 40 other significant community members who are now active Community Peer Educators, leading dialogues geared towards the eradication of GBV against girls.