Empowering families, transforming lives in Zimbabwe

The Global Parenting Initiative (GPI), the University of Cape Town (UCT), Plan International Zimbabwe, and Clowns without Borders South Africa (CWBSA) recently concluded a pilot of an adapted version of the Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) program for teens and parents. The program aimed to address both violence against women and violence against children and involve fathers in Manicaland, Zimbabwe.

“The Sinovuyo Caring Families Programme for Parents and Teens (Sinovuyo Teens) was a group-based family strengthening program designed for parents (both mother- and father figures) and their pre-adolescent children ages 10 to 17.

Specifically designed for families facing challenges, its goal was to promote positive parent-child relationships and reduce the risk of violence in the home, including child abuse, neglect, and intimate partner violence in their communities,” says Natalie Davidson, GPI’s research coordinator from the University of Cape Town.

The study piloted the adaptation of the PLH Teen program to include a more explicit focus on preventing violence against women and engaging fathers in the Zimbabwean context. The objective was to assess its effectiveness, building on the evidence base for parent skills training interventions effective in preventing violence against children and expanding it to include the prevention of violence against women.


Natalie sharing the findings with local implementers and government officials

The Sinovuyo Teens programme consisted of 12 sessions, aimed at achieving various objectives, including enhancing parenting skills, improving positive parenting behaviours, empowering teenagers to manage their behaviour and HIV risk, and strengthening co-parenting partnerships. The program also addressed crisis response, mental health, problem-solving skills, and stress reduction to create a more supportive and harmonious family environment.

natalie cathy our ras representatives from ministry of youth and delay from plan

From left to right: Obert Mavisa and Ignatius Mudede, the research assistants, Natalie Davidson the research coordinator, Delay Sibiya, Plan International’s M&E coordinator in Mutare, Cathy Ward, Principal investigator and Brenda Manyau, a representative.

The male caregivers actively participated, challenging traditional gender norms and promoting equal division of tasks in caregiving. Participants reported enhanced co-parenting partnerships, reduced conflict, and improved family togetherness. Significantly, there was a notable reduction in physical intimate partner violence, accompanied by positive changes in gender attitudes and roles.

Beyond the family unit, participants experienced improved relationships with friends, extended family, and the broader community. Teenagers showed more responsible and respectful behaviour, fostering better communication and understanding between generations.

While the journey had its challenges, such as initial resistance, fear from male caregivers, and logistical issues like long distances, the programme's adaptable nature and community-focused approach helped overcome these hurdles.

The local community in Manicaland embraced the program, with demand exceeding capacity, highlighting its relevance and impact. Local leaders, including village chiefs and the ward councillor, strongly supported the initiative.

facilitator training

Facilitators working together during the facilitator training workshop.

“Although there are no immediate plans to scale up in Manicaland, the success of Sinovuyo Teens lays the foundation for potential expansion in the future. The collaborative efforts of the GPI, UCT, Plan International Zimbabwe, CWBSA, and Catholic Relief Services Zimbabwe were pivotal in the program's success.

The collaboration, along with valuable input from partners like the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and the LEGO Foundation, created a powerful synergy. Each partner brought unique expertise, contributing to the holistic development, implementation, and evaluation of the programme and we are grateful for such a wonderful experience,” says Natalie.