Giving Hope: Tariro Girls Excel!
Every year on World AIDS Day, I mourn the loss from AIDS. I reflect on the impact of this loss on children, families, communities and economies around the world. Despite the pain of these losses, I also take the moment to appreciate the progress we have made in fighting HIV/AIDS, and recognize the work that lies ahead. However, despite the progress we have made, girls without a primary education are still at higher risk for getting infected. Each year 60% of new HIV infections occur among adolescent girls – gender inequality contributes to these high numbers among girls.
The evidence is clear: investing in education for girls is an effective tool to fight HIV. Girls with primary education are significantly less likely to contract HIV – when girls stay in school through secondary education, the protective effect against HIV is significant. When girls are educated, they are able to avoid risky behavior, practice and negotiate safer sex. Increasing access and breaking barriers to education for girls is essential to achieve an AIDS- free generation.
For the last decade, Tariro has been fighting HIV through supporting education for girls orphaned by AIDS in Zimbabwe. Through financial and psycho-social support, Tariro girls are able to continue with their education and dream beyond their circumstances. Over the years, girls supported by Tariro have excelled in their studies and continue to hold onto the hope for a brighter future.
In Zimbabwe, education has led to significant decline in rate of HIV infection – in 2010, 75% of 15-24 year old Zimbabwean women had completed secondary education and this led to the significant decline of HIV rates from 29% to 14%. The benefits for educating girls benefit the girls and society overall, yet we continue to see a decline in government expenditure on education. Programs focusing on adolescent girls, especially in sub-Saharan Africa play an important role to ensure girls reach their full potential.
I support the work of Tariro in opening doors and allowing girls to. Your support for Tariro carries our work forward to ensure these girls find hope and lead full and healthy lives. Your gift today gives hope and adds to the call to action for improving education for girls around the world.
Chiedza Mufunde is passionate about education and reproductive rights. She currently works on research, policy and advocacy with A World At School campaign focused on universal primary education. She is also Secretary of Tariro Board of Directors.