COMMUNITY LEADERS HAVE BIG ROLE

Tanaka Mahanya

COMMUNITY leaders have immense potential to address child rights issues by regularly engaging with their communities and tailoring information to meet their specific needs.

The National Assessment on Adolescent Pregnancies in Zimbabwe found that by aligning community dialogue meetings with religious and community events, community-based service providers can effectively discourage child marriages and promote the education of girls.

In order to maximise the impact of such community-based efforts, it is important to support community leaders with educational materials and financial resources to help them address the unique challenges faced by their communities.

“One example that came out in Mbire district was how the community care workers were arranging face-to-face meetings on child marriages with apostolic church leaders and members just before the annual passover festival.

“The meetings were meant to discourage forced or child marriages which are common during these passover festivals.

“In the same meetings, parents were encouraged to value the girl child’s education,” reads part of the findings.

Added the report:

“If community-based cadres are well supported with educational materials and financial support, they can go a long way in addressing their community specific drivers of adolescent pregnancies.

“During the community dialogues, duty bearers and gatekeepers were invited to address communities on some of the challenges faced by communities.”

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