First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa says modern day practices have eroded the role traditionally played by aunts and uncles to educate adolescents as they grew into puberty in the process exposing many youngsters to dangers associated with being deprived of the knowledge.
In a speech read on her behalf by Busiswa Dube, a representative of her charity organisation, Angel of Hope Foundation, at the SRHR Africa Trust (SAT) awards, the first lady said adolescent is a population that faces vulnerabilities resulting from causes such as lack of parental guidance, eroded norms and lack of access to health services.
“The SADC Reproductive Health Strategy highlights that Adolescents Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) merits special consideration because this a population that faces vulnerabilities resulting from causes such as lack of parental guidance, eroded norms and lack of access to health services. This observation shows that there are low levels of knowledge among parents to support ASRH needs.
“The ASRHR strategy however recognizes the role traditionally played by aunts and uncles to educate adolescents as they grew into puberty has been eroded by modern practices such as urbanization and access to radio, television, internet and print media. The strategy notes the challenge faced by parents in responding to the information needs of adolescent’s girls,” she said.
“There is an African proverb that says, “It takes the whole village to raise a child.” Likewise, the issue of early and unintended pregnancy is not one individual’s responsibility; everyone has a role to play in preventing adolescent pregnancy,” the first lady added.
She noted that adolescents and young women need increased access to equal opportunities, education in sexual and reproductive health, youth-friendly services, social support, education, employment, and empowering life skills, so that unplanned childbearing does not hinder the achievement of their dreams at a young age.
She also said she was at pains with the scourge in the number of children selling sex which has become rampant such that they end up exposed in early sexual activities which then corrupt their sexual integrity through pregnancy, HIV and other STIs, forced or early marriage, rape, and sexual harassment.
Health and Childcare Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa hailed young people for championing their own cause in educating their peers on the HIV/AIDS.
“It is good to notice that SRHR African Trust through its strategic plan The Girl Plan also boys is focusing in keeping girls in schools. Health is a matter of concern and I am glad that through our young innovative youths, they are scaling up the policies and initiatives set to decrease new infections and issues affecting their reproductive health.
“Despite the circumstances Young people continue to champion their own cause and keep representing Zimbabwe is a positive manner,” said Parirenyatwa.
According to the 2012 census, 56 799 children aged 15-17 years were married, with a greater proportion for girls (12 percent) having been married than boys (0.9 percent).
In the same Census, very high proportions (92.7 percent) of the married children were girls.