UNICEF launches campaign for adolescents

Review & Mail Writer

UNICEF on Wednesday launched a Communication Campaign on Adolescents, which will highlight the situation of adolescents in Zimbabwe.

The campaign running, from October to December 2023 will highlight issues affecting adolescents (children aged 10-19) and their problems such as early pregnancies, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

The communication campaign dubbed, “Nothing for us without us”, will also highlight adolescents’ power as actors of change in their communities and the programme work done by UNICEF, the Government of Zimbabwe and their partners for adolescents to address their needs.

UNICEF Zimbabwe aims to support national efforts of the Government of Zimbabwe to advance the development and participation of adolescents aged 10-19 in matters affecting them, and to ensure adolescents, especially adolescent girls, those with disabilities and the most vulnerable, are empowered and equipped with knowledge, skills; and opportunities to become socially and economically resilient.

In an address to the media, UNICEF’S Jacqueline Kabambe highlighted a number of issues that affect adolescents in the country.

“Twenty-two per cent of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have begun childbearing; one third of the maternal deaths are among adolescents 10-19; there are over 85,000 adolescents 10-19 living with HIV; 4.1 per cent of girls aged 13–17 experience sexual violence; Zimbabwe is home to over 1 million child brides, with 1 in 3 young women having been married in childhood; 47 per cent of adolescents are out of school in Zimbabwe,” Kabambe said.

“All of these deprivations impede adolescent development, especially the cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural capacities that support health and well-being.  

“Since adolescents represent the future of the country, one of the most important commitment a country can make for future economic, social and political progress is to address their developmental needs,” she said.

She explained that early adolescence, between the ages of 10 and 14, is a particular age when enduring patterns of healthy behaviour can be developed, hence it was easier to start developing healthy patterns than changing risky behaviour that are already entrenched.

UNICEF notes that Zimbabwe has made progress in addressing matters affecting adolescents.

Notable accomplishments include the recent passing of the Marriages Act that prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 18.

The Education Amendment Act has made provisions for school retention for pregnant girls and adolescent mothers, free basic education, abolishment of corporal punishment as well as provision of free sanitary wear for girls in primary and secondary schools.

The country also has a Youth Policy and Strategy which have prioritised participation and economic development including skills development for employability.

In its work for adolescents, UNICEF Zimbabwe prioritizes five cross sectoral strategic interventions namely Prevention and Management of Adolescent Pregnancies; Support on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, and HIV/AIDS for Adolescent Girls; Promotion of skills, entrepreneurship and employability; tackle substance and drug abuse; and Stimulate adolescent participation.

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