UNICEF Zimbabwe has launched a three month communication campaign to address the needs and challenges faced by adolescents in Zimbabwe.
By Kuda Pembere
Themed “Nothing for us without us”, the communication campaign will be running from this month to December.
It comes at a time when the country is seized with containing high teenage pregnancies and child marriages as well as the incidence of HIV amongst adolescents.
UNICEF Zimbabwe country representative Dr Tajudeen Oyewale said it was important for adults to listen to children, adolescents and young people.
“For the next three months, UNICEF is going to be focussing on highlighting the work we do with children and adolescents. The intent is to give more voice to them. The intent is to deliberately show the culture of listening, partnering and working together,” he said.
UNICEF Zimbabwe chief for HIV/AIDS and Adolescent Development and Participation Ms Jacqueline Kabambe noted adolescents are being left out in programs that promote adolescent development.
“Twenty-two percent of adolescent girls ages 15 to 19 have begun childbearing, one third of the maternal deths are among adolescents 10 -19; there are over 85000 adolescents 10-19 living with HIV; 4.1 percent of girls aged 13-17 experience sexual violence; Zimbabwe is home to over 1 million child brides, with one in three young women having been married in childhood; 47 percent of adolescents are out of school in Zimbabwe.
“All these deprivations impede adolescent development, especially the cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural capacities that support health and well-being,” Ms Kabambe said.
She added that they will also be focussing on adolescents aged between 10 and 14.
“Early adolescence, between the ages of 10 and 14, is a particular age when enduring patterns of healthy behaviour can be developed. Developing healthy pattens from the start is easier than changing risky behaviour that are already entrenched,” she said.
Ms Hazel Mandaza, a member of the UNICEF Youth Advisory Committee said as adolescents with disabilities, they have been facing challenges with accessing Sexual Reproductive Health services.