Rockflower recently completed a pilot project with the Women Advocacy Project in Harare, Zimbabwe for a six-month advocacy and awareness campaign on the prevention of child marriage and the intersection of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Women Advocacy Project is particularly focussed on building community based programs that will contribute to the shift in attitudes about the role of women and girls in society. Over 600 participants of the six month program said that it helped to initiate conversations amongst community leaders, especially men, and amongst parents on the negative consequences of child marriage. Working in the six communities of Mavuku, Tafara, Mbare, Waterfalls, Hopley and Danmark - Women Advocacy Project was able to reach schools, community organizations and churches in this targeted approach.
Zimbabwe ranks amongst the top ten countries on the African continent with the highest prevalence of child marriage. One in three girls gets married before their 18th birthdays. The drivers of this are
- limited access to education and
- the traditional and cultural practices that promote child marriage
The economic, social and psychological effects of child marriage are well documented but the need to bring awareness to it's prevention and provide some alternative solutions lies first in creating an opportunity for continued advocacy within communities and across religious and ethic lines. Then follows the all important conversation around education and access to reproductive healthcare. Girls with a secondary school education are six times less likely to marry early than those with no education at all.
“It is our role as community members and leaders in different institutions and communities to take it upon ourselves to help communities understand the need to halt the scourge of child marriage. It is important to understand the unique and significant role that the Women Advocacy Project is playing in our communities and we must join these efforts and support them” headmaster at Mabvuku school.
“It is evident that girls who marry early are left without the skills, knowledge and social networks to financially support their household, which maintains their low societal status and makes their families vulnerable to intergenerational cycle of poverty that hinders the development of the communities “
Rockflower looks forward to a continued partnership with the Women Advocacy Project to promote this much needed dialogue.