Nyaradzai Gumbodzvanda –– Campaigning to End Child Marriage in Africa
No one better understands the silencing and exclusion that women and girls face than those who have lived the experience, and no one is better able to propose solutions that respond to these lived realities than those that are going through them. This is the story of Nyaradzai Gumbodzvanda. Born last in a family of 14 children, her dream was to ride a ‘chicken’ bus she saw every day, from her village to Murehwa Centre. Murehwa is only 15 km away from her village but this made sense for a little girl born into a poor family, to a mother who was married off at 15 and hardly finished her secondary education. Luckily for this little girl, her dream came true. Not only did she ride the bus to her desired destination, she rode the bus beyond Murehwa Centre.
She has received international appreciation for her work on anti-child marriages which earned her the recognition to be the African Union Goodwill Ambassador on ending child marriages. Most importantly, from dreaming of becoming a bus rider, Nyaradzai has become a ‘bus driver’ who is driving women and girls in her village and beyond to their destinations, through her organization, Rozaria Memorial Trust (RMT).
Having noticed challenges that come with early child marriages such as poverty and gender based violence, RMT in 2017 embarked on a project of giving girls a second chance to get them to go back to school and break the intergenerational feminization of poverty. Through the efforts of RMT, 16 young women in two districts have received a second chance in life.
Out of the eight that have gone the formal education route, some have gone back to 6th grade while others have gone back to secondary school. One of the young women is now training to be a teacher. Through this work, Rozaria Memorial Trust is investing in intergenerational leadership and empowering young girls to have agency, have courage to take back their power and control over their lives, by promoting their re-entry into school.