Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Marching to end child marriage in Zimbabwe

As Female Student Network, we believe that education is a right, and that girls must get the same opportunities as boys to fulfill their dreams. Unfortunately, child marriages are a big menace to young girls academic dreams and the rights of the girl child.

The Constitutional Court on the 20th of January made a landmark ruling stating that child marriages are unconstitutional. Today we were celebrating this ruling in a joint march by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, students from various secondary, higher and tertiary institutions, Churches and women’s organizations. We are happy to see that such a broad coalition fighting such a patriarchal oppression of our girls. Its now crucial that we use this momentum to make sure that this law is now implemented and that communities around the country are educated on the matter. 

                Poverty is the problem, not culture

Some people argue that marrying off young girls is in our tradition. However, the rise in child marriages in the last year is a clear example that its not culture, but poverty that is the driving force. If we look around the globe, we see that child marriages are a problem in the poorest countries. In our country, we can also note that Hurungwe. an area that has been hard hit by poverty, also has very high rates of teenage pregnancy. According to a study which was done by Ministry of Health and Child Care with support from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), almost half of the 19 year old girls in this area had been through a pregnancy.

Its time to empower women and girls

A court ruling is a good start, but we now need to do the hard work. As female students, we are dedicated to educate our peers and our communities about the ban of child marriages in our country. We also want to work hard to make sure that girls stay in school, and are not given away in exchange of a bag of rice. Fighting poverty and working for girls right to an education hence go hand in hand. Girls don’t want a husband, they want books. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Orange day

FSNT would like to commemorate the orange day!

The orange day is part of a campaign started by UNiTE to put focus on Gender based violence and to ensure that violence against women is at the top of national and global agendas. The Orange day is a day to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls, using the color orange to symbolize a brighter future without violence.

According to UNwomen a staggering one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, and may increase vulnerability to HIV.
In September 2015, a new global agenda was created; the Sustainable Development Goals, which takes over from the MDGs. The SDG is a set of 17 global goals that applies to all countries and will guide policy and action. These goals makes gender equality and women’s empowerment a key priority and includes specific targets to end violence against women and girls.

SDG 5 is to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls"
Some of the targets includes 
  •  End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  •  Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decisionmaking in political, economic and public life
  •  Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels

-    The SDGs correlates with the work of Female Student network Trust.
We work to empower female students through capacity building and leadership trainings. We think that female students have the same capabilities as their male counterparts. We want to see more females as leaders of student unions and SRCs.

We also work for the implementation of Sexual Harassement policies at TEI’s. 
In 2015 we conducted a national baseline survey on Sexual Harrasement in Zimbabwes tertiary institutions. The research was done in 21 institutions across the country. Only 4 out of 21 institutions had sexual harassment policies in place!

The findings reveal that SH is very rampant in TEIs. Many female studenst reportet to have encountered Sexual Harassment in different forms, like unwanted and uninvited physical contact (touching, patting, hugging), inappropriate remarks, wolf whistling and offers of favors, unwanted unprotected sex and even rape. The perpetrators are mostly male students, male lecturers and non-academic staff at campus.

Findings suggest that many female students fail to live their college lives fully, making life style adjustments because of fear of SH in their living and learning environments. Many avoids participation in SRC and other institutions because of fear of being victimized and harassed by fellow students. 

Absence of SH policies means there are limited gender sensitive formal frameworks for use in interventions aimed at creating a violence and harassment-free learning environment for male and in particular female students. Having a SH policy will make it easier for students to report issues relating to SH and will contribute to creating a safe learning environment for students. 

Men and boys also have a responsibility and a role to play as agents of social and cultural change, and in speaking out against violence against women and girls. FSNT encourages male (and female) students to be supporting towards your fellow female students in order to create equal opportunities for participation for leadership positions and decitionmaking processes. 

In 2016 FSNT is committed to continue our work for the empowerment of female students and to work towards all institutions implementing a sexual harassment policy!


#Orangeday #VAW #orangetheworld #female students #16days #endVAW #GBV

Monday, 23 November 2015

Female Student Network (FSN) strongly condemns the brutality of the police towards female students

Friday 13.november 22 female students were beaten and arrested by police. 

They were demonstrating against the violations of their academic freedom, and voicing out their concerns about the high tuition and accommodation fees at their respective institutions. The scenario took place in central business district in Harare were students were marching from Rezende Street towards the Parliament to present their petition. 
22 female students were arrested; six was released the same day, while 16 remained in arrest overnight and released on Saturday afternoon. 

As an organisation that advocates for the active representation and participation of female students in tertiary institutional politics, FSN is greatly disturbed by these arrests. 

The Network has previously been receiving reports from female students who withdrew from contesting in student representative council (SRC) elections because of risk and fear of being beaten up or arrested. 
FSN strongly believes these arrests and the violence used are some of the root causes and hindrances to female students full participation in student politics and generally in the democratic process.

Therefore FSN urges the government to respect human rights and allow students to demonstrate for their academic freedoms as this is not attached to political affairs, but student grievances towards their academic education.

FSN will always fight for academic freedom for female students in solidarity with other student movements. This will increase their participation in student leadership without fear of being arrested.

Thursday, 29 October 2015


 By Patience Malunga

The fees must fall campaign in South Africa eventually led to a non-increment to the tuition fees. Well done South Africa student community! However, I am bitterly bleeding and asking myself when the circumstances of Zimbabwean students will change.

 Most of us students in tertiary institutions are relying on a payment plan because our parents cannot afford the exorbitant tuition fees .My question is for how long are you going to use a payment plan that you cannot even afford to pay on time to access your education ?

Right now you are almost concluding a semester but the surprising thing is you do not even know if you passed the previous semester examinations because your results are withheld, you have not cleared last semester’s fees. Is this how things should be?

Most of us have graduated and still we do not have our original transcripts and certificates because we are owing the cadetship scheme which the government was supposed to pay, but instead its now our personal obligation to pay the bill. My question, is for how long Zimbabwean students?

Most of us are paying tertiary tuition which is above 600 US dollars yet our parents still earn below the poverty datum line. Is this not a wakeup call?

Needless to speak about the power cuts that affect our reading, the water shortages that affect our health, the exorbitant rentals etc.

When the French revolution broke out some historians said it was because of the winds of change blowing across Europe. Is this not a wind of change blowing across the student community in Southern Africa? Education must be accessible #FEESMUSTFALL.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Female students in tertiary institutions face myriad problems

By Yvonne Mufute (Midlands State University)
In most tertiary institutions, female students are more vulnerable as compared to the male students. Young women are affected due to welfare, abusive lecturers, abuse among students and peer pressure. 

Female students are at higher risk in institutions such as Midlands State University, Great Zimbabwe University and Chinhoyi University of Technology. The welfare of female students is being affected and as a result some are forced to live the life they do not want.

 When we talk of welfare, these are issues related to accommodation, availability of food, conducive learning environment, in short the wellbeing of students.Most students engage in temporary marriages that will last for 3-4 months. A temporary marriage is where by boys and girls stay together as husband and wife and at the end of semester they separate without the knowledge of their parents.
This is caused by high rentals for instance in places like Senga –Nehosho in Gweru, Morningside in Masvingo students pay full rentals $70-90 per head and they will be staying  3-4 pupils  in a room.
It’s so expensive as a result students choose to engage in those temporary marriages and some cohabit with others so to share responsibilities and save money for groceries and other necessities. 

Due to peer pressure some female students get into contractual relationships with older men in order to carter for their needs and wants like clothes, food and other necessities.

On the other side male landlords demand sex from female students for them not to pay their rentals.
If you reject they will be on your neck giving one a hard time for instance raising rentals, locking the gate before 7pm when others will be in school by that time. Usually girls cannot negotiate for safe sex since they will be in need for money above all as a mere beneficiary in the relationship.

Sexual Transmitted Diseases and HIV have become so common on campus to an extent that campus clinics now provide ARVs and medication for STIs. In some tertiary institutions, female students are forced to have sexual relationships with their lecturers due to financial problems and eagerness to obtain distinctions in their academics.

Lecturers demand sexual favors from female students for them to pass their course and as they go for attachment the bosses will be on their neck demanding sex. Female students are affected in so many ways, hence a lot has to be done to ensure their protection and to guide them so that they make the right decisions for their future.


                                     By Linda Kazembe (Midlands State University)

The room was so silent
Sorrow overshadowed me
I knew I was not alone                                                                                
 Tip top went the sound behind me                                       
My heart raced
Alone in a dark world of shattered dreams
A little hopeless girl
With a beast as a father
As the sun set so did my heart faint
No dreams for a brighter future
The sound was as fast as the drum beats
It was so rough as always
My face became his punching bag
Tattoos became my cover page
My painter was my father
Blood stains all over
Pain eats me alive
As I was about to surrender
The voice came again
Like an angel from above
Out of darkness
Led me into the light
Gave me a shoulder to lean on
A cloth to wipe away all the pain
Restored my strength
The chirping birds
The wind
Whispered words of motivation
I became a voice for the voiceless
Pain made me stronger
The time had come
For the first time NO
Changed my life
I was free
Stand up and fight for your rights

Have the courage to say NO!


Patience Malunga

Created from the rib of man meant her position was right beside and never in merciless irony hands.
She dreads to fight because of fear
Her voice goes mute whenever she wants to scream
Voiceless are her cries and broken is her smile
A stranger to peace and a commoner to tears pain and sorrow
Darkness has failed to give her solace neither her tears able to moisturize the dryness on her face
In labor she travails to bring forth another human being to life
Despite the pains and the turmoil of labor she gladly embraces her new one
 Routine of breastfeeding, diaper changing and sleepless nights follows
She does this in the name of love to a man whose love is miles away
This man has nothing to offer but a bitter pill of anger, rage and hatred
His music is full of torture as his words are never positive
But strongly she lives and fights for the cause of her children
She wears the victor’s crown
A hero whose song is never sang ………………..