By Vumani Mthiyane
Gender activists in Matabeleland South have castigated the local political leaders for failing to address the issue of teenage pregnancies currently bedevilling the province.
This comes after the latest findings by Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) and its partner, Population Services of Zimbabwe (PSZ), revealed that Matabeleland south province has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in the country at 31 percent.
In an interview with CITE, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, secretary general for Matabeleland South province, Linda Mpofu said only women councillors and MPs can effectively address this problem.
“It is no surprise that Mat south tops the list of teenage pregnancies in the country,” she said.
“What can one expect from a marginalised province whose government does not care about young women and girl emancipation? Definitely, there is no political will to deal with this issue.
“The members of the community should rise up and make necessary noise to those who hold high offices, people with the capacity to set up sound policies to deal with issues, not MPs who get into parliament to sleep.”
Mpofu said as an organisation they are advocating for the elevation of women to such decision making positions as they have a better understanding of how such issues affect women.
“As Women Coalition we are 100 percent behind the women quarter system. I am certain that once a woman is in parliament her first call will be to tackle such issues and come up with policies that will curb this madness”
She also noted that there is a need to educate, capacitate and provide skills to these young women and girls so that they can know their worth and in the process avoid engaging in irresponsible sexual activities.
“Most of these girls who fall pregnant are school dropouts. Their male counterparts will go to school because some parents still have that mentality that the girl child’s position is in the kitchen,” said Mpofu.
Gwanda Residents Association secretary, Bekezela Fuzwayo Maduma also highlighted marginalisation as the main cause of teenage pregnancies.
“The issue of teenage pregnancies is a direct result of poverty and deliberate disregard of community empowerment. Matabeleland South is a known victim of marginalisation and all our political representations have over the years played blind to this.
“We need representatives who understand such issues and are able to articulate them well,” he said.
Former Gwanda Hospital Superintendent, Dr Purge Chimberengwa said there was a need to introduce sex education in schools to empower young girls with adequate information.
“This is a very serious challenge that is affecting our pupils. Personally, I think teenage pregnancies are being fueled by poverty and lack of education. The school curriculum must include sex education although the ministry of education is still resisting accepting it,” said Dr Chimberengwa.