By Lungile Moyo and Loveness Nyathi
As part of efforts to empower the girl child to tell her own story, Plan International and the National Art Gallery in Zimbabwe (NAGZ) in Bulawayo, have partnered to host the Girl Empowerment Movement (GEM), a visual arts learning programme for the girls.
Silenkosi Moyo, the administrator of NAGZ in Bulawayo, said the partnership is important because visual arts presents a medium of communication that allows one to express themselves in a creative and thought provoking manner.
“The GEM program seeks to empower the adolescent girls to tell stories through use of visual arts, leadership training and entrepreneurial skills,” she said.
Moyo said they hope the skills the girls have acquired will lead them to take up art on a fulltime basis and give them confidence in the craft, enabling them to take part in gallery activities through schools programmes.
Amakhosikazi Media spoke to Audrey Dube (15) a Form three student at Montrose Girls High who said the GEM program has empowered her teaching her to do things with her own hands without relying on other people.
“An artist does not need to always buy things, for example for my project l just used natural dyes like beetroot, green vegetables and food colouring to substitute dyes that are bought,” she said.
Mbalenhle Miti (16), a Form three student at Pumula High, said everyone has a talent and can do anything with their own hands.
“After this program many girls have benefitted a lot as we have learnt to do Macrame, collage, bead work and dying with a lot of fabric,” she said.
Mbalenhle said girls should break the stereotyped image by the community that girls are not capable of doing great things.
Abigail Dube (18), a Form 2 student at Lobengula High School told Amakhosikazi Media that she has learnt to do things by herself.
“l think girls are now empowered and somehow have equal opportunities as boys, l also think that the aim of Plan International pertaining this program is to promote gender equality in our community,” she said.
The NAGZ administrator said the programme will give girls confidence to do art on a full time basis and as a career.
“It is a question of monitoring their growth and keep their interests through various programmes,” she said.
The programme was funded by Plan International which is also responsible for the message focusing on challenging gender inequality through building the capacity and ability of girls in creative use of communication to express their issues as they see and experience them in their communities.
The hope is that they will be heard beyond their communities. Plan International Child Rights and Protection Coordinator, Getrude Ndlovu said the GEM programme runs alongside Boy Empowerment Movement (BEM) each year from January to October.
She said this year they took 10 pupils from each school with six being girls and four being boys.