Using Soap to Empower Girls in Zimbabwe.
This project is an extension of the project which was supported by the New Life Fund in 2020 and which directly benefited 30 poor young women single mothers and girls victims of child marriage in the community of Eyre Court. WAP is now extending this project to the impoverished community of Chitungwiza.
The project is aimed at relieving the suffering of young women and girls through fighting and reducing poverty, a major driver of child marriage in Chitungwiza township of Harare. In this township, poverty is high and the development opportunities of children, especially girls and young women, are severely impaired.
Zimbabwe has been in economic decline since late 1990s, a situation which has negatively impacted the economic and social situation of its populace. Unemployment rate is estimated at above 90%. Those who have jobs are mostly underemployed.
Women and girls have been most affected by this crisis. They account for 52% of the population and most live in extreme poverty. This is causing child marriage. According to UNICEF, UNFPA and the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) one third of all girls in Zimbabwe marry before the age of 18. Statistics shows that approximately 500,000 teenagers fall pregnant every year in Zimbabwe and that 19 percent of the pregnancies are a result of child marriages due to poverty. 48% of adolescents confirmed that their pregnancies were unplanned.
According to WAP’s 2018 baseline study conducted in Hopely, Epworth, Mbare, Harare and Chitungwiza, most victims of child marriage are living on less than $1.90 per day. Many families are unable to pay for school fees, sanitary pads or other hygienic material. Many parents are forced to marry their daughters off to wealthier families. Many girls turn to prostitution. Finally, adolescent pregnancy also contributes towards maternal and child mortality and the vicious circle of ill-health in communities like Mbare, Epworth, Chitungwiza, Hopely, Eye court and Waterfalls.
The main goal for this project is to improve the economic situation of women and girls who were married young and are now often single mothers. The project aims to develop new professional skills: the participants learn how to produce detergents such as dish washing liquid soap.
After completion of the training the participants are supported with a soap-making start-up kit that enables them to venture into these income-generating activities. Detergents such as dish washing liquid soap and toilet flush cleaners have a large market within the local communities and the surrounding area in Harare and beyond. Sales of the products should therefore not be a problem.