Period poverty remains one of the major setbacks in girl-child emancipation in Zimbabwe. A study by SNV Zimbabwe shows that 72% of adolescent schoolgirls do not use sanitary products simply because they cannot afford them. It further states that 62% of schoolgirls are forced to miss school every month due to the lack of sanitary wear.
In an interview with TWSC, co-founding director of The Rose Gift Foundation, Patience Tarumbwa shared her views on the impact of the lack of adequate sanitary wear.
“It is unfortunate that in 2022 we are still dealing with issues such as period poverty,” she said. “Period poverty is the leading cause of negative issues in society such as girls dropping out of school and them not being able to fully utilize their potential as well.”
Of late, many individuals and non-governmental organizations have been hosting sanitary wear fundraisers and empowerment seminars in a bid to assist underprivileged girls. Such an event will be held on the 10th of December, and Patience will be the guest speaker. Patience has a passion for women and girls, having learnt a lot from her own experience. She had her first two children while a teenager and she is a single mom. Patience’s full story is available here.
Tell us more about this unique Women Empowerment Seminar
The Women Empowerment Seminar is being organized by Miss Anne Mugwagwa. She is a young woman I met at the African Youth Leadership Model United Nations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in August 2021. She is also involved in women empowerment and volunteers most of her time to different UN organs and different African affiliate bodies. We have common interests. She spoke to me and said she wanted to do something in her hometown [Chinhoyi] before the end of the year, especially during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The theme is: “The Untapped Power Within.” It is a seminar for all women from various walks of life and it’s free. The only requirement is that they donate a packet of pads, which we will, in turn, donate to Good Shepherd Children’s Home in Chinhoyi.
Also, as we are nearing the end of the year, we are moving into a new season. It is a time of reflection. It is a time when someone can look back and prepare for the future. And there are many possibilities that lie untapped within us as women. There is so much that happens within a woman. A woman has a womb, she is an embodiment of producing, an entity that brings forth life. It doesn’t only mean a biological child, but at times, it could be something that is being produced that is going to add value to the world.
Most times because of the different and difficult situations we have encountered, women tend to draw back, are afraid and count themselves out. They don’t realize their full potential. This seminar is an eye-opener. It’s something that they can look forward to because it will help them plan their progress for the year ahead and beyond.
It’s not just the ‘new year, new me’ thing. It’s about the power that every woman has inside of her even before the calendar changes or the clock strikes twelve. Once a woman fully acknowledges that she has so much power within her to bring so much positivity, change and advancement in her sphere of influence, then it’s game on!
We will also speak about the importance of advocacy for issues pertaining to GBV as it will be the last day of the 16 Days of Activism. It’s just women coming together because there is so much power when women come together. There is so much power in unity.
What does being the guest speaker at this event mean to you?
I am a speaker. I speak a lot about purpose, leadership, and girlchild advocacy when it comes to issues like period poverty, child marriages, rural girlchild education, human rights and GBV. Speaking is my life’s purpose. It’s everything I love and I envision myself doing it on even bigger platforms. For me it’s not a job, it’s what causes me to wake up in the morning because I believe the words I speak are seeds that grow in the hearts of people and they can inflict and cause change. When you speak and people resonate with what you are talking about, when you connect with people at their point of need, it is the best feeling in the whole world. And that’s how I feel; that’s what makes it so worthwhile.
I’m really excited to connect with women to tell them a few things. I’m really excited to see that women will rise up and begin to look at themselves differently. Women will begin to look at themselves with new eyes. They will put on strength, put on their armour and go out there and do what they are purposed to do. As a purpose speaker, this brings so much joy to me. I love connecting with people so speaking is so exciting and empowering even for me. I’m looking forward to making new friends, forming new relationships, business and otherwise.
What can the guests look forward to?
People should expect a very explosive seminar. That’s one thing I can say. They should expect to hear a dynamic word, revelation and a person who is speaking from a place of truth after so much brokenness and darkness.
What are some of the advancements you have made in the past year?
The article that was published by TWSC catapulted me to another level that I’m eternally grateful for because that’s when Dr. Praise Matemavi contacted me.
At the time of publishing, I was the founding director of Gemstone International Foundation for Transformation (G.I.F.T) and after reaching an agreement with Dr. Matemavi, we merged our organizations to form The Rose Gift Foundation. G.I.F.T hasn’t been dissolved, but we decided to work together to form something that is both ours so that we have equal partnership.
The Rose Gift Foundation is primarily a Christian-founded human rights foundation focusing on rural and marginalized women. We have a special heart for teenage mothers as both of us were teen moms. We have a special heart for single mothers – I am a single mother who has been divorced for eight years. Dr. Matemavi has since remarried but she also went through the phase (read her story here).
What other projects are you working on as The Rose Gift Foundation?
Currently, the program that we want to establish and work on is the situation of the girls at Ngozi Mine in Bulawayo, which is used as a refuse dumping area by the city council. The situation is desperate, there are two issues that I realized which are water and sanitation. As much as they are living in an area that is unfit for human habitation, there are basic needs that need to be addressed there. Yes, we understand the area is an illegal settlement but there are people that are living there who have no place to go and there are children that are living there. It is a serious urgent issue, there is no clean running water.
We also need scholarships for 20 very vulnerable girls in this place. We are aiming to roll out a program where the girls can be put in school. They are attending government schools and the fees are not very high. This is something we are looking for partnership for. Donations for school shoes are also necessary because the children walk 10 to 15 km to the nearest school barefoot, whatever the weather.
Another issue affecting this community is rampant abuse. The amount of domestic violence, sexual and emotional abuse in that community is just terrifying. The majority of teen mom’s there are between the ages of 13-16 years old. There is a 13-year-old who has two children in that community. There is need for skills as well as sustainable projects to empower teen moms.
With help, the children can have a fighting chance and receive an education so that they too can empower themselves.
*** The Women Empowerment Seminar will be held at 783 Muzari Avenues, Chinhoyi, starting at 12:30 pm.
Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde is a journalist passionate about gender equality, social development programmes and grassroots-based solution seeking initiatives. She has a passion for women and community development. Phoebie is also a radio personality at a regional commercial radio station, a platform that enables her to network with like-minded women, journalists and activists as she continues to document and tell the story of the ordinary woman from the lens of that very ordinary woman.