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I am very passionate about the access to equitable education by girls and women , more so for the girl and woman in rural areas.
There is a convergence of issues that women and girls face whose only possible emancipation from this nexus is the access to equitable education . The freedom from the shackles of poverty , patriachy , violence , injustices , early child bearing , teenage pregnancies and limited civil participation can be set in motion when society understands that access to equitable education will break these shackles. It is when women and girls can access this vital resource that society grows.
My passion is thus centered on understanding the issues around the impediments to access and finding creative ways to rewrite the narrative and change the story. My experiences as a development practitioner and mentor for a number of girls over the years and being a resident villager gives me rear insight on such intricacies. Most of the times l have gone-in with my heart , soul and head resulting in emotional turmoil when some of the interventions and strategies have failed dismally. l have then learnt to just go in with the head and learn to keep the heart far-away. Poverty and the injustices around issues to do with women have tended to exhibit themselves as generational cycles that unfortunately have blinded completely those that are shackled by such chains with the resultant effect being that they who need the emancipation do not know the fact and can misconstrue or misunderstand the whole process when offered opportunity to change the trajectory.
The first step towards equitable access to education is to make those suffering from the lack thereof to understand the importance of not only access but of receiving equitable access. Communities are apt to accept piecemeal tokens as better than nothing which usually mean resources are limited resulting in the first losers being women and girls as patriachy rears its ugly head fighting for scarce resources.
The sword is double aged as not only do communities need realignment of values but policymakers need to be made aware and most of them unfortunately drink from the same cup of ignorance and arrogance and these also need a paradigm shift in their thinking. The mentality that rural people are third rate citizens only good to fish out votes from during election cycles need to be drained down the drain along with other archaic thinking. The other notion that rural folk can only do well after moving to the city must be dispelled with the contempt it deserves as most who migrant to cities end up as slum dwellers facing challenges attributable to slum dwelling.
The menaces that catapults poverty in the life of rural girls is the generational early childhood bearing. The moment one encounters this obstacle the less likely the ability to break the chain of poverty. Every year a girl child spends in school helps with reducing the possibility of early pregnancy and early marriage and systems and structures must be put in place to suffocate the trends towards young girls dropping out of the school system. This means increased direct investment in rural education , increased social amenities that foster educational advancement and institutional support of educational endeavours through building more robust well equipped schools , vocational colleges and training centers across rural villages with fiscal support for the same. It is important to have community level support for girls by aligning laws that promulgate their inclusion in education and protection from would be instigators of their educational demise.
Zimbabwean laws are sometimes not aligned as seen in the age of consent which is at 16 years while the child marriage is a marriage of those 18 and below . Law enforcement officers and child development practitioners complain of a divorced relationship between institutions as roles sometimes clash and are not geared towards one purpose of protecting the interests of the girl child.
Education is the turbo-engine that is thus needed to enlist new life style patterns and new paradigms and my hope and desire is that more and more young girls in rural areas find the solace and respite offered by access to equitable education and fight hard for the right to this important resource.
Like any passion it is a product of the heart and is not an easy journey but the rewards can be satisfying and well worth the effort. l have now learnt to accept both the applause and the naysayers who always tell me year in and year -out that you cannot stop all young girls from getting pregnant and dropping out of school. My response is always that l am not trying to save everyone but rather l am recreating a new generational arrangement were less and less children are born from mothers with limited years in school. l might not be able to change the generation l see but l choose to plant good seeds for the future.