Harare, March 8 2012: Child rights activist Nyaradzo Mashayamombe on Tuesday called on men to play a more positive, proactive role as both mentors and role models to ensure that Zimbabwe’s girls live in a safe environment free of abuse.
“Men ought to play a role in improving a girl’s life. If you are a relative, compliment them; be interested in their talents and education. Make her feel important such that she won’t think that getting it from a man is worth losing her own life,” saidMashayamombe, founding director of the Tag a Life International.
Mashayamombe’s group works to create a world where girls are safe and develop to their full potential by living as equals with boys through inclusion in all community life. She and fellow musician Chiwoniso Maraire ran a Food for Thought discussion session at the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs auditorium March 6 on the subject of protecting and helping girls to mark Women’s History Month.
The official theme of International Women’s Day (March 8) 2012 is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures,” and is based on the premise thatevery International Women’s Day event held in 2012 addresses girls’ issues and inspires thousands of young women globally.
Mashayamombe said that men play both positive and negative roles in making a girl’s life different from a boy’s life.
“The environment that girls grow up in is not secure enough because of our own brothers, uncles and granddads,” said Mashayamombe, who cited the increasing number of reported rape cases involving young girls.
“We need swift and resolute justice to cases of abuse and rape, but we continue to see cases of girls being raped and perpetrators are given $50 bail. What about the issues involved in the rape that destroys their future, like HIV/AIDS?”
Talking about her experience in rural areas, Mashayamombe said that girls’ dreams become tarnished due to poor role models and a lack of education and exposure.
“Most girls come from vulnerable environments…. As a result, girls get married early because sometimes they lack mentorship and exposure,” said the child rights activist.
“Rural young girls actually compete to date a teacher because of lack of mentorship and irresponsible male teachers,” she noted. “Parents have a lot of impact on a girl’s life. Girls need to be supported as they grow up by both men and women because men become so harmful and manipulative to them, as not all of us honour girls.”
Mashayamombe explained her passion for children’s rights issues and said this motivated her to form her NGO, Tag a Life International (TALI). “I’m personally passionate about young people. So if their rights are taken care of, their future and dreams are then protected,” she concluded. – ZimPAS© March 2012