Edutainment mix: Just like water, what our society needs most is a daughter

The month of October celebrated the international day of the girl child on the 11th under the theme “Girls right: Our leadership, our well-being”.

Girl child advocacy remains something of centrality within the context of the arts. It remains one of the core elements of the edutainment spectrum as there is a consistent need for society to strengthen the capacitances of the girl child.

The month of October celebrated the international day of the girl child on the 11th under the theme “Girls right: Our leadership, our well-being”.

The United Nations International Day was first celebrated in 2012 as a way to raise awareness about gender inequality and to advocate for girls’ rights and empowerment.

The day focuses on challenges girls face and what steps can be taken to fulfill their human rights.

There is an urgent need for increased attention and resourcing for key areas which enable girls to realise their rights and achieve their full potential. It is a theme that calls on all nations to put their money where their mouth is.

Investing in girls’ rights means to go a step further than just financial backing, it also means showing true political will in reforming rights for girls. It also means paying attention to gender parity laws when it comes to leadership so that young women and girls’ needs are not only put forward, but so that those girls can be inspired to lead us in the future.

Artists have a role to play in the protection of the girl child. but are we as artists aware of the different gender parity laws and how they enhance the protection of the girl child?

Over the past decade, Zimbabwe has had two landmark judgments which were meant to change life for girls in Zimbabwe tremendously. 

Both these cases were brought in an effort to align child protection laws with the Constitution.

 In 2016, child marriages were banned by the Constitutional Court and in 2022, the age of consent was raised to 18 years. Both judgments sought to address the unacceptable reality that still about one in three girls in Zimbabwe under the age of 18 is married. 

This means that nearly one third of girls automatically do not finish school, do not explore childhood and are stripped of an  opportunity and potential.  The whole country will be impoverished as a consequence.

Although efforts have been made in amending the Marriages Act to raise the age of marriage to 18, the efforts to actually curtail child marriages have been disheartening.  Statistics show that since 2016, there has been very little change in the number of girls married before the age of 18 in the country.

Different art forms like music, dance and poetry can address themes that relate to the protection of the rights of the girl child from the various vulnerabilities and harmful cultural taboos that inhibit the ability of the girl child to self-develop.

 They can also be used to advice the girl child to be focused and be woke in a world that exposes her to harsh realities.

I have seen and attended many poetry and theatre events where the central themes are premised on addressing the issues that surround girl child advocacy. These have been very powerful and creative ways to edutain the community on the plight of the girl child.

One interesting case in point has been the laundry cafes which were hosted by Victory Siyanqoba Trust which were platforms that infused art in the discussion of issues that orient to sexual reproductive health.

I found these as synergies that were creative as they enabled the young adolescent girls to open up and discuss different issues affecting them and the need to debunk the harmful cultural taboos.

As artists we have to stretch our mind to understand a broader spectrum and be able to address the “what ifs” that affect the everyday life of the girl child.

What if instead of being treated as someone’s property to be betrothed, raped, abused, sold, with no power over her destiny, a girl is healthy, safe, educated, and empowered?

 What if instead she has the ability to freely make informed decisions regarding whom, when and if she marries, and when and if she wants to have children?

 What if instead she is respected and valued by her community and is educated, able to pursue a non exploitative career, able to invest in the economy and participate politically in a non-discriminatory atmosphere, able to live her life to the fullest based on her own choices and abilities?

My fascination with gender and policy issues puts me as a creative in a position where I have to think deeper on the vulnerability and risks the girl child faces, and how I can also creatively spread across more awareness on the need to protect and safe guard her.

Well, I am proud to say that in my Escaping shackles of the ancient musical anthology I have quite a number of songs that speak and directly address the vulnerability of the girl child to abuse and also the need for the girl child to take care of themselves.

In working with the youth within the community I have learnt more about the challenges that are faced and experienced by the girl child as they fall into the entrapment of many vulnerabilities because of issues driven by poverty, experimentation and exploitation.

In our modern society I feel the need also for the girl child to change their behavior and approaches as they have to be conscious enough. There are sugar daddies or what we call blessers who give them money in exchange of sexual favors.

 They remain vulnerable at VUZU parties which expose them to the vulnerabilities of HIV and pregnancy. There is also need to facilitate effective communication between the parents and adolescent girls so as to ensure that they know about sexual reproductive issues and the socio-cultural aspect that relate to behavior change and forms of expression.

Let me rebut by saying;

Is society overlooking the boy child? Is the boy child not vulnerable too? Are we not seeing more cases of suicide, depression and drug abuse among the boy children?

The exclusion of boys has crippled the dream to achieve gender equality, which remains a global concern. The exclusion of the boy child manifests itself in increased conflicts with the law, an illiterate population, increased crime and low self-esteem. This has led to violence, truancy and drug abuse.

Instead of ridiculing the boy child, the society should try to rescue him. Values and a sense of character can be effectively impressed upon a young mind through teaching, explaining, and demonstrating.

But when it comes to the boy child it is a thought in passing as the focus is on the girl child. Nevertheless  I give kudos to Mzoe 7 and veteran artist Mono Mukundu who also speak on the plight of the boy child who remains ignored.

 We have to remember the boy child too and never underlook their plight.

The undeniable truth though, is that a lot of girls never get what they truly deserve.  Gender bias, culturally imbibed malpractices, human trafficking, child marriage, poor health and sanitation are some of the numerous problems that continue to cause troubles for girls. The biggest of them all, is lack of education and we have a role to advocate for the plight of the girl child.

Artists have a greater role to play to be the voice of, and speak for the girl child for the actualisation of development and growth and the instigation of forms of gender equality.

  • Raymond Millagre Langa is musician, poet, orator, independent researcher and founder of Indebo edutainment Trust. You can follow on Face Book @Millagre Ray Langa, on X you can follow on #Millagre Langa, email. [email protected] or [email protected].


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