Nothing for us, without us UNICEF’s Communication campaign on Adolescents (Oct-Dec 2023)04 October 2023Cover Adolescent

UNICEF launches a Communication Campaign on Adolescents, which will run from October to December 2023. It will highlight the situation of adolescents, their power as actors of change in their communities and the programme work done by UNICEF, the Government of Zimbabwe and their partners for adolescents to address their needs.

An adolescent is any person who is aged between 10 and 19 years. Zimbabwe has an estimated total population of 15.2 million of which 1.8 million are adolescents, 12 per cent of the total population.Adolescents in Zimbabwe face multiple deprivations. 22 per cent of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have begun childbearing; one third of the maternal deaths are among adolescents 10-19; there are over 85,000 adolescents 10-19 living with HIV; 4.1 per cent of girls aged 13–17 experience sexual violence; Zimbabwe is home to over 1 million child brides, with 1 in 3 young women having been married in childhood; 47 per cent of adolescents are out of school in Zimbabwe.

All of these deprivations impede adolescent development, especially the cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural capacities that support health and well-being. Since adolescents represent the future of the country, one of the most important commitment a country can make for future economic, social and political progress is to address their developmental needs.

Early adolescence, between the ages of 10 and 14, is a particular age when enduring patterns of healthy behaviour can be developed. Developing healthy patterns from the start is easier than changing risky behaviour that are already entrenched.

Zimbabwe has made progress in addressing matters affecting adolescents. Notable accomplishments include the recent passing of the Marriages Act that prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 18.

The Education Amendment Act has made provisions for school retention for pregnant girls and adolescent mothers, free basic education, abolishment of corporal punishment as well as provision of free sanitary wear for girls in primary and secondary schools.

The country has a Youth Policy and Strategy which have prioritised participation and economic development including skills development for employability.

UNICEF Zimbabwe aims to support national efforts of the Government of Zimbabwe to advance the development and participation of adolescents aged 10-19 in matters affecting them, and to ensure adolescents, especially adolescent girls, those with disabilities and the most vulnerable, are empowered and equipped with knowledge, skills; and opportunities to become socially and economically resilient.

In its work for adolescents, UNICEF Zimbabwe prioritizes five cross sectoral strategic interventions: (i) Prevention and Management of Adolescent Pregnancies; (ii) Support on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, and HIV/AIDS for Adolescent Girls; (iii) Promotion of skills, entrepreneurship and employability; (iv) tackle substance and drug abuse; and (v) Stimulate adolescent participation.