Katswe Sistahood wins international award

Zimbabwean sexual reproductive health and rights group, Katswe Sistahood has been named among the 20 organisations in the world, that won this year’s With and For Girls award.

BY Abel Dzobo

The award will see Katswe Sistahood receiving $50 000 capacity building support. The award was presented at a ceremony in London on Monday, as part of global initiative, whose mission is to identify and support strong local organisations working with and for girls.

Katswe Sistahood director, Talent Jumo, said the award will serve was as a formidable launchpad to reach out to more girls around the country.

“Katswe Sistahood is honoured to receive this recognition at a global level. The With and For Girls award will go a long way in advancing the agenda to mobilised young girls and demand their constitutional rights,” she said

Jumo said Zimbabwe faced numerous challenges among them early and forced marriages.

Jumo said some religious sects believed it was their divine right to marry and marry off children.

“We have policy inconsistencies, the Constitution says the age of consent to marriage is 18, yet the laws say its 16. High maternal mortality is also another challenge and of late, we are grappling with revenge porn, which is aimed at devaluing, dehumanising, intimidating and humiliating the girl child,” she said.

“To these challenges, girls are saying no to early, forced and child marriages. They are fighting teen pregnancies and unsafe abortions and they are mobilising to ensure that paedophiles and rapists are arrested. Girls want their voices heard and Katswe is committed to creating platforms for them to engage with service providers, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders.”

Jumo said the organisation won the award due to girls and young women who selflessly volunteered their time and energy to reach out and support their peers as part of the girls’ empowerment agenda.

Katswe Sistahood hosts pachoto (fireside) meetings where girls meet to discuss issues important to them.

This year Katswe launched the Nzwika! Girl Be Heard festival, which saw girls from Mbire and Chipinge handing over a 10-point petition to the Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development ministry on August 28.

Stars Foundation, chief executive officer, Muna Wehbe, one of the organisations behind With and For Girls Collective, said women were being overlooked.

“Despite the critical role that women and girls play in sustainable development, the World Bank estimates that less than $0,02 of every dollar spent on international aid is directed towards adolescent girls. We want to shine a spotlight on grassroots girl-focused NGOs and encourage more funders to support girls in their role as vital agents of change within our sector,” she says.

The With and For Girls Collective is a group of eight organisations – EMpower, Mama Cash, Nike Foundation, NoVo Foundation, Plan UK, Stars Foundation, The Global Fund for Children and The Malala Fund.

Other countries which won the award from Sub-Saharan Africa are Boxgirls Kenya, HACEY Health Initiative (Nigeria) and Organisation of Women in Sports (Rwanda).

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