Talent Jumo describes herself as a dynamic and passionate feminist activist. She is the founder and Director of Katswe Sistahood, a young women’s organisation based in Harare, Zimbabwe. She has more than 13 years experience working on women and health programmes, particularly on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), including HIV and AIDS. She was recently selected among the 120 under 40, a new generation of family planning leaders.

A teacher by profession, Jumo joined the Community Working Group on Health in 2005 as a Gender Officer for the HIV programme. Talent Co-Founded the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative (now Katswe Sistahood) in 2007, and has served as Katswe Sistahood Director since 2012.

Winner of the 2015 STARS Global; With and For Girls Award primary agenda Katswe Sistahood,  is building a movement of young women who can articulate their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and advocate for the realisation of these rights. The organisation is also convener of Pepeta Africa, an advocacy platform for SRHR activists in Southern Africa.

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Image taken from Facebook

Katswe implements programmes in urban, farming and rural communities, and is working to strengthen its national and regional level advocacy work. The aim is to effectively use women’s lived realities and experiences, to influence decisions and priorities at the policy level, where resources are allocated.

“We work mainly with marginalised groups of women, i.e. with Sex Workers, Adolescent Girls Selling and with young women in general. Katswe is especially recognized for its advocacy work on decriminalizing sex work, as a way of reducing sex worker vulnerabilities to sexual and other forms of violence, that predispose them to HIV infections,” says Jumo.

Jumo was nominated to serve as the Women’s Representative on the Country Coordinating Mechanism against HIV/TB and Malaria in 2016 through the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe – Health Cluster. She is a member of the Women for the Global Fund. Through her leadership, the women’s sector in Zimbabwe is engaged in consultative meetings and submitted a priorities charter on engendering the HIV/TB response during the Zimbabwe Funding Request to the Global Fund in 2017.

In 2017, she became a member of the NGO delegation to the Global Fund against HIV, TB and Malaria. The activist is also the current chair of the Right Here Right Now (RHRN) (Zimbabwe platform). RHRN is a strategic partnership that envisions a world where young people, in all their diversity, acquire full and uninterrupted access to comprehensive sexuality education. It also deals with youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion.

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The organisation working in the communities. Credit: Facebook

Recent Controversy 

Recently the organisation courted controversy after going live on radio with showcasing the plight of underage ‘sex workers’ in Zimbabwe. Some people condemned the move as an abuse of the children’s rights who are being sexually exploited on the streets and a ploy by the organisation to make money. Speaking on the incident Jumo said, Katswe Sistahood has prioritised and supported the rights of young women and adolescent girls from marginalised groups, including for the rights of sex workers; and advocating for social protection for children sexually exploited for survival.

“The plight of underage sex workers is one of urgency, and its victims need state protection, sooner rather than later, The publicity campaign around the issue that Katswe Sistahood led was necessary, and befitting of attention, particularly through the Star FM Series on ‘Child sexual exploitation’, which raised public outcry and immediately well wishers wanted to donate. To successfully manage the outpouring of support, Katswe Sistahood created a GoFundMe account to receive donations, which then attracted negative attention from some quarters,” she said.

The government has already intervened, and 54 girls have been rescued and taken to a home through the involvement of the Victim Friendly Unit officers and Social Workers from the Social Services Department.