Saturday 3 October 2020


GOVERNMENT has decreed that pregnant schoolgirls be allowed to attend class in their maternity attire as formal school wear might not be compatible with their changed body stature.

Women Affairs minister Sithembiso Nyoni confirmed the new directive during Parliament's question-and-answer session on Wednesday after the issue was raised by Bulawayo Central MP Dorcas Sibanda (MDC Alliance).

"We are very concerned as a ministry - and Hon Sibanda is right that during this lockdown period, a lot of girls fell pregnant. We are working on the issue with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education," Nyoni said.

"We have formed child support committees of women and mothers that are supporting such girls and we are encouraging them to go back to school. Indeed, some of them have uniforms that are no longer fitting because they have now grown bigger because of pregnancy. We are talking to schools so that they are allowed to go in their own clothes."

Nyoni urged communities, teachers and parents to provide moral support to pregnant schoolgirls.

"We cannot do that without the children also being made to understand that being pregnant sometimes may not be totally the girl's fault. Some girls are cornered into pregnancy. So we need to continue to support them to go to university, colleges and also to take up jobs because having a child does not mean that you are now disabled or you cannot do much in life," she said.

Sibanda also asked Nyoni to explain the efforts by her ministry to ensure gender equality.

Nyoni said women in Zimbabwe constituted 52% of the population, and therefore there were programmes to ensure more girls are educated and enrolled at universities.

"So the ministry is taking a very important strong position to ensure that girlchildren are empowered. We also have programmes that empower women. I think gender equality is not possible as long as women continue to be marginalised politically, economically and socially. We have got different funds in our ministry and we are trying to disburse so that women are economically empowered," she said.

Nyoni said Cabinet recently passed a policy on small and medium enterprises development to specifically empower, women and the disabled. Newsday


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