Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, senior reporter
Grassroots community action in Umzingwane District, South Matabeleland Province, facilitated by the Apostolic Women’s Empowerment Trust (AWET) in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Children, tackles the sexual and gender-based violence and Covid-19 through community engagement activities.
AWET and behavior change facilitators discuss gender-based sexual violence, child marriage, poverty, gender relations, and Covid-19 preventive measures, among other critical issues.
The Trust has advanced dialogue and understanding of gender issues, as apostolic sects hold diverse beliefs, norms, values and perceptions on key social issues such as child marriage, education, HIV / AIDS and maternal health.
Using direct community engagement activities, AWET communicates SGBV at the household level and offers reporting mechanisms such as toll-free numbers and referral channels.
Behavior change facilitator Samantha Ncube (22), from Nhleyiyana village, said early child marriage was a challenge she was determined to end.
“Some girls want to marry older men to escape poverty. These men already have wives. There is also peer pressure among young people who like fancy things. Some families also promise their children to older men. My role is to educate and also to refer abused people to the police, social workers and other partners, ”she said.
AWET’s program manager, Ms Hope Dunhira, said the Spotlight initiative focuses on gender-based violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence and child marriage.
“The response has been really overwhelming and we are now being invited to schools where our behavior change facilitators who reside in the communities have visited elementary and secondary schools to raise awareness on how best to protect ourselves from Covid-19. and make sure everyone adheres to the guidelines. We are working closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, ”Ms. Dunhira said.
She said the meetings are held on Tuesday every two weeks.
“We were part of the regional platform where we shared what we did in Zimbabwe because AWET works in 52 districts across the country. We have over 3,500 behavior change facilitators who are in communities across 52 districts, ”Ms. Dunhira said.
The Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership to end all forms of violence against women and girls. It is funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP, Unicef, UN Women, UNFPA, Unesco and ILO in Zimbabwe.
Co-chaired by the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the Ministry of Women, Community Development, Small and Medium Enterprises, the Spotlight Initiative also has a national civil society reference group to promote the accountability of women and men. stakeholders and civil society commitments. – @Yolisswa