According to the International Women’s Day website, the pace we are progressing toward gender equality means that closing the gender gap wouldn’t be complete until 2133. That’s right, 117 years from now. That isn’t acceptable to us. Closing this gap will take all of us working toward women’s equality and equity, and Tariro is working to do our part in the Harare region of Zimbabwe.
Equal educational opportunities are a major force in creating equity for women. This is a large reason why Tariro exists, yet statistics also show that providing opportunities for women and girls benefits everyone in her community. Here are just a few ways equality for women creates a “ripple effect” that benefits all of society:
- Women are the largest emerging market in the world. More equality equals more GDP. Countries with better gender equality and equity, and less gender disparity in primary and secondary education, are likely to have higher economic growth (Global Partnership for Education).
- Women have the most influence on their families. According to Camfed, when you educate a girl she will earn up to 25 percent more and reinvest 90 percent of her income into her family.
- Educated women are more likely to have smaller families, have healthier and better-educated children, and participate in political processes that influence their well-being.
- Educated women are less likely to contract HIV/AIDS, and less likely to be exploited. Evidence shows that among 15-18 year old girls, those who are enrolled in school are more than 5 times less likely to have HIV than those who have dropped out of school (Global Coalition on Women and AIDS).
Tariro was founded in 2003 by Memory Bandera and Jennifer Kyker who know benefits of educating girls and saw a need during their time in Zimbabwe. Tariro addresses the particular needs of Zimbabwean teenaged girls who face higher risks of dropping out of high school and contracting HIV. With much of the educational support in Zimbabwe focusing on younger children, our founders saw a gap to fill. Tariro started with 12 students and has grown to support as many as 60 students, all of whom have lost one or both parents to illness and poverty.
Tinotenda was forced to drop out of school after losing both of her parents. She had been out of school for two years when she heard about Tariro through a friend and sought out our headquarters. Although it wasn’t recruiting time, our coordinator agreed to do a home visit, and noticed that Tinotenda had a closet full of school uniforms though she seemed to own little other clothing. She had been collecting them from friends who had outgrown them, so when the day came for her to return to school she would be prepared. Her determination was inspiring and Tariro sponsored her. After missing two years of school, it was difficult to place her in a school, but eventually we found one that would admit her at entry level. Attending this school required her to walk and hour each way, yet Tinotenda never missed a day.
Though Tariro is a small grassroots organization, we don’t take lightly the large impact we have on girls such as Tinotenda. We are proud to have several girls we now also support through University.
In addition to paying school fees for the girls, Tariro purchases uniforms and supplies, provides books through our lending library, offers tutoring and extra curricular activities including traditional Shona music and dance, psychosocial support and an annual conference on HIV prevention. Nearly 100% of donations go directly to our students and staff on the ground in Zimbabwe. To make a donation, visit us here.
Tatenda (we thank you) for your support of Tariro, of closing the gender gap, and of women and girls around the world!