On the Day of the African Child (DAC), Zimbabwe Health Interventions (ZHI) joins the rest of the continent in celebrating African children. The theme for the DAC 2022 is “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”
The DAC 2022 also provides an occasion for Organizations such as ours, to take a step back and introspect on our work and invigorate efforts in addressing harmful practices to protect and prevent children and young people to include people with disability from all forms of abuse for their well-being and development. Through our DREAMS-RISE program’s diverse activities and interventions, the project is implementing activities that seeks to prevent, protect and respond to violence and abuse for children who are at risk of harmful practices in Zimbabwe.
The prevalence of harmful cultural practices continues to violate the rights of children and young people across the continent. These harmful practices hinder children from fully enjoying their fundamental rights as enshrined in the African Children’s Charter. These harmful practices come in many forms and impacts on children and young people’s rights to education, health and other relevant services required to realize their full potential. These practices impact negatively on children’s dignity, physical, psychosocial, moral integrity and development, participation, health, educational, economic, and social status. 1
As ZHI, we note that harmful traditional practices are forms of violence against children with deep roots that are embedded in traditions, cultures, religion, or harmful social norms and practices held by some community members. Harmful practices rob children especially the girl child of their childhood, deny them the chance to determine their future and threaten the well-being at individual, family, and societal at large.
ZHI, through USAID and PEPFAR support is implementing the DREAMS- RISE program that seeks to eliminate harmful practices by addressing and challenging harmful social norms that impact on adolescent girls and young people through social norms change dialogues with religious and traditional leaders as agents of change or champions to promote safe environments, gender equality and social inclusion. ZHI is committed to safeguarding Zimbabwe’s children including people with disability as we conduct various activities under the RISE program. We believe we are part of the system that should facilitate in the holistic transformation of children exposed to various societal “ills”. As we reflect on the commitments made during the 22nd Ordinary Session of The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC ) on 5 November 2013, we continue to measure how well we are advancing in eliminating harmful practices against our children and young people. Let us strive to eliminate child, early and forced marriage as we work towards raising that “FIT Zimbabwean Child” who will RISE!
1 European Institute for Gender Equality ‘Harmful practices’ Available At https://eige.europa.eu/thesaurus/terms/1233 (Accessed 9 June 2022).