MIHR launches girl empowerment initiative

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR), Wednesday, launched an initiative to provide free sanitary products and an educational dialogue platform for 60 young girls in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park covers villages such as St Peters, New Mazwi, Methodist and Robert Sinyoka, where early teenage pregnancies, abuse of girls ‘to and from school by school leavers, school dropouts and cattle herders’ is rife.

The launch coincided with the Day of the African Child held annually on June 16, which runs under the theme: 30 years after the adoption of the Charter: Accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children.”

In an interview with CITE, MIHR Coordinator, Khumbulani Maphosa, said they were driven to launch this project as they were aware that many girls missed school for days when they had menstrual periods, particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“As Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights, we recognise that many girls lose out on school due to period poverty. In some poor communities of Zimbabwe, girls use cow dung and crushed maize cobs as sanitary pads, as alternatives to sanitary ware. This violates their fundamental human rights and freedoms and also their right to human dignity,” he said.

“Today we launched an initiative that empowers 60 young girls with sanitary pads. Through this project we will not only be giving sanitary pads but also educating girls on their rights and responsibilities while creating platforms for them to dialogue with parents, community leadership and the government on issues that affect them as adolescent girls. We will also be creating platforms for girls to learn and dialogue with boys.”

Maphosa said enhancing the dignity of these young girls was in line with the theme of the Day of the African Child.

“As a human rights-oriented organisation, we are saying an Africa fit for children should promote children’s rights and create platforms of child active participation in community development and decision-making processes,” said the coordinator.

Before launching the sanitary ware programme, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights was involved in capacitating village committees, composed of the elderly on human rights issues.

“We partnered with Yvonne Kapuya’s Supporting Souls Sending Smiles initiative on this campaign which aims at reducing period poverty, reducing levels of teen pregnancies and reducing human rights violations for young girls. Yvonne has for the past years been very active in promoting menstrual hygiene management for young girls through community education and donating of sanitary ware,” Maphosa said.

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