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