Summer Internship Report | Social Institutions | Society

Tara Doolan Girl Child Network (Zimbabwe) Final Internship Report My summer internship at the Girl Child Network

(GCN) in Harare, Zimbabwe has been one of the most significant learning e periences of my life! GCN is a grassroots Zimbabwean NG" that seeks to empower the girl child by gi#ing her access to the skills, education and resources that she needs to de#elop into her full potential as a woman! $n contrast to many large organi%ations based in Harare and working on ad#ocacy, the Girl Child Network is located in the rural townships, which puts the organi%ation in a strategic position to reach out to the most #ulnerable girls in the po#erty&stricken rural areas! $n addition to promoting the empowerment of these girls through local girls' empowerment clubs (there are o#er ()* clubs, which are operated through schools across the country), the organi%ation also pro#ides much needed emergency aid in the form of school fees, medical supplies, sanitary ware, and other basic supplies to girls in need! +inally, GCN also ser#es as an intake center where girls can report cases of abuse, especially se ual abuse, which is alarmingly common! GCN pro#ides girls with emergency counseling, and also operates se#eral rehabilitation centers, called ,empowerment #illages,- where sur#i#ors of abuse and rape can recei#e the care they need! "#er the course of the summer at GCN, $ had the opportunity to get in#ol#ed in a #ariety of pro.ects, which are e plained in more detail below/ 0! Child 1e ual "ffences 2ill $ began the summer by assisting GCN in the drafting of legislation aimed at stiffening sentences for child se ual offenders! 3t present, no such legislation e ists to offer specific protection to children, and so GCN took the initiati#e to begin drafting a bill called the Child 1e ual "ffences 2ill! 4hen $ arri#ed, GCN had successfully lobbied stakeholders and policy makers to support the bill, but the actual legislation was still in draft form! 1ince none of GCN5s staff members ha#e any legal training, $ took on the role of re#ising and editing the bill! 3fter researching the rele#ant Zimbabwean laws, $ used the rele#ant Canadian and 2ritish legislation as a guide to help GCN to come up with a final draft, which we then submitted to the Minister of 6ustice in Harare! 7he bill has been endorsed by the Ministry of Gender and 4omens5 3ffairs and we are an iously awaiting its passage in 8arliament! 9! 8reparing Child&+riendly :egal $nformation $ was also in#ol#ed in helping to prepare legal educational tools to assist young girls in preparation for trial! Ha#ing re#iewed cases on file attended trial with sur#i#ors of rape, $ noticed that one of the ma.or problems was the actual testimony gi#en by #ictims, who were seldom prepared for the difficulties of testifying about such painful personal e periences! 7o address this problem, $ prepared a child&friendly informational brochure for young girls which included/ a simplified e planation of the laws that e ist to protect

electricity.escue&Missions 7hroughout the summer. telephones and roads are often lacking! +inally. whose spirit and energy in the face of so much hardship is truly remarkable! "f particular mention is the ?irector of GCN. water.< which in#ol#e remo#ing girls from abusi#e situations! +or e ample. one such mission in#ol#ed tra#eling to the remote #illages in the hills of eastern Zimbabwe to remo#e se#eral young girls at risk of being married off to an older man in order to appease the a#enging spirits that were belie#ed to be haunting the #illage! GCN organi%ed an informal tribunal with #illage chiefs. as well as help raise money to fund the fantastic work being done by GCN! My e periences at GCN ha#e definitely helped me gain a better appreciation of the incredible obstacles in#ol#ed in fighting to enhance the status of girls and women! $ also came to understand the central importance of eradicating gender based #iolence in order to halt the spread of po#erty and H$A&3$?1! 7he opportunity to work in a country facing such acute economic and political problems was also an incredibly enriching and educational e perience! $ ha#e come to understand the uniBue practical challenges in#ol#ed in implementing human rights in a country where food. etc! (! 8articipating in . elders.rescue missions. 2etty Makoni! 6ared was in 3frica with the :$+7 pro. 2etty Makoni. founder of the :$+7 program. make a documentary film about GCN and its ?irector. information on the prosecution process. health care. whose incredible leadership and passion for helping girls in need was a great source of inspiration for me! $ feel so grateful for the time that $ spent in Zimbabwe. which had funding to make a documentary film about an under&funded NG" working to pre#ent the spread of H$A&3$?1! 6ared came to Zimbabwe in 3ugust and we spent two weeks filming 2etty and the work she was doing at GCN! 7he resulting documentary film will be screened this No#ember 0>th at a fundraising gala in 7oronto! 4e hope that the film will ser#e to raise awareness among the legal community about the connection between gender. tips on testifying. $ ha#e also gained a great deal of respect and admiration for the resilience and strength of the people of Zimbabwe.children.ect My final weeks at GCN were spent helping 6ared @elly. $ had se#eral opportunities to tra#el with 2etty through the rural countryside and assist her in carrying out . a diagram of the courtroom and glossary of legal terms. and police officers to help stop the planned early marriages and educate the community about the importance of postponing marriage until a girl has attained the age of 0=! 7his was an incredible e perience and allowed me the opportunity to de#elop an appreciation for the deep&rooted cultural and traditional practices that can sometimes complicate efforts to seek the ad#ancement of women and girls! >! Helping 8roduce a ?ocumentary +ilm about GCN 7ogether with the :$+7 pro. and $ look forward to continuing my relationship with GCN from Canada! . #iolence. and H$A&3$?1.ect.

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