Letters to Strangers+Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11th) in recognition of the struggles that the girl child faces and continues to engage in around different spaces across the world. It is a call to action for radical social and political change to tear down barriers of discrimination and prejudice that curtail the advancement of the girl child. As L2S+Zim, we are in this together.
The 2020 Commemorations are running under the theme, “My voice, our equal future” which aptly captures the mood and circumstances that the girl child has to contend with. The voice of the girl child has been muted if not stolen by a society driven by profit, violence, patriarchy, selfishness and greed and indeed it is our firm belief that the commemorations will inspire the girl child to reclaim her stolen voice, space, and dignity that have been invaded and violated for so long.
These commemorations come at a time when the world is recovering from the ravages of COVID-19 which practically put the world into quarantine. During this time, the "old way" of doing things was substituted by digital forms which have become the "new normal." However not with standing the many positives, this new normal has also brought new challenges for the girl child in the form of cyber bullying and cyber violence. We urge all concerned to make concerted efforts especially governments to put legislation that make cyber space friendly for the girl child and every other user. The digital zone must be a safe zone for the girl child.
It is ironic that as we commemorate we are struggling to open schools and it's sad to note that hundreds of girls have been married or fell pregnant in the past six months during the COVID-19 induced lockdown ostensibly because of the lack of adequate sexual and reproductive information and resources. There is paramount need to break this cycle and make sure the girl child has access to sexual and reproductive health information.
L2S+Zim notes the positive steps taken by the Government of Zimbabwe to transform the lives of the girl child; however, much work remains. We therefore urge the immediate implementation of the 50/50 representation in parliament to increase the representation of women in parliament. However, there must be a quota set aside to ensure representation for girls or young women under 25 years of age. We also encourage the government to prioritize through budgetary allocation social service delivery which support the well being of the girl child.
Letters to Strangers+Zimbabwe is seeking to alleviate the stressors of the COVID-19 crisis by conducting socially-distant, masked workshops on mental health, COVID-19 facts, and how to sew reusable masks and sanitary products. Please consider supporting their mission by donating to Letters to Strangers today.