By Edward Mukaro
WHILE commending Government’s efforts to enforce a stricter lockdown phase for an indefinite period to curb the skyrocketing COVID- 19 positive cases, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) has called out authorities for overlooking women’s needs, whose livelihoods are highly dependent on the informal sector, and domestic work.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, this week, addressed the nation and announced a raft of measures that include a 06:00 am – 06:00 pm curfew, closure of some business sectors, coupled by an indefinite lockdown, among other conditions.
However, measures announced by the head of state and government, according to the WCoZ fell short of catering for genuine women concerns, such as the implementation of social protection measures announced as intervention methods during the early stages of lockdown.
“While it is clear that Zimbabwe has moved into a stricter lockdown phase for an indefinite period, it is concerning to note that Government has not fully considered the socio-economic welfare of citizens, particularly women, whose livelihoods is heavily dependent on the informal sector, and domestic work.
“We note with disappointment, the unacceptable delays in the implementation of social protection measures announced by the government during the early stages of the lockdown.”
“We further note that the relief grants pegged between ZWL$180 – $250, clearly do not correspond with the level of hardships women are currently facing, especially considering the increase in price of basic commodities. Families are hungry, and the extension of the lockdown has not made it any easier on women-headed households.”
The women’s body further stated that despite government’s efforts to curb the novel COVID- 19 pandemic, more should be done to balance these measures to make sure that they do not harm vulnerable communities, both socially and economically.
“Appreciating that stern measures are required in order to curb the spread of the pandemic, there should be a balancing act between safeguarding lives and securing livelihoods for vulnerable communities. It is insensitive and insulting, for authorities to disregard the economic vulnerabilities that women have been exposed to, in the time of COVID- 19.”
The statement by WCoZ however, recommends the government to prioritize the implementation of social protection programs, to alleviate COVID- 19 induced economic shocks suffered by vulnerable households.
Furthermore, authorities were implored to make a total overhaul of social protection programs to ensure that they fully correspond with basic commodity price hikes and the increase in the cost of living.
By Edward Mukaro