By Joyce Mukucha
The Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) is enhancing women’s participation and influence as well as strengthening national accountability on gender equality and empowerment.
The organisation strives to ensure a conducive environment and has created a focal point for women’s rights from diverse backgrounds to guarantee equality and equity in as much as the inclusion of women in economic development spheres is concerned.
Addressing women during a Women’s Rights Indaba in Harare on the 1st of October 2019, the Board Chairperson of WCoZ, Ronika Mumbire said there was no doubt that the economic meltdown which is currently prevailing in the country poses negative consequences pertaining development of women in economic structures.
The Indaba called for transformation from gender-blind to gender-conscious economic policies that motivate more women to effectively participate in the economic growth of the country.
The Indaba was running under the theme, “Towards an Inclusive and Gender Equitable Economic Development in Zimbabwe.”
“This year’s Indaba is dedicated to an Inclusive and Gender –Equitable Economic Development in Zimbabwe. A theme chosen mainly in light of the current financial, economic, and social crisis that we are experiencing in the country. There is no doubt that economic development in Zimbabwe has traversed a very rough patch with an economic meltdown particularly taking its toll on women across the country, many of whom have lost their jobs, homes, savings and therefore their entire livelihood.
“For growth to be truly inclusive and gender equitable, the pattern of growth must create decent work and productive employment opportunities for women and men. This would require policymakers to adopt human rights as a guiding normative framework and to rethink the role of macro-level economic policies including trade, industrial macro- economic finance and investment policies which also include addressing unpaid care and domestic work through transformative approaches that recognises and values care work,” Mumbire said.
The Women’s Coalition, she added, believes that economic growth is an inherently gendered process and that gender-based inequalities can, in fact be barriers to shared prosperity.
Giving an analysis of the current economic environment vis a vis the theme, Naome Chakanya, a labour expert, said inequalities amongst women lead to squandering of resources and have negative impacts for the future generation. She said some drastic policies that the Government has taken have the negative impact on women and stressed that women want a government that considers women whenever it passes policies.
“There is need to generate more reflective data on women who dominate employment in the informal economy. For economic growth to be visible, women should be at the centre of policy making processes but unfortunately we are being relegated. Concerning policies such as the 2 percent tax, there is no transparency and accountability. Women are facing many challenges. For instance, there are no contraceptive pills in hospitals and clinics. If they are available, women are buying them at an expensive price. There is no clean water which also affects the hygiene and sanity of women.
“There is need for us to make noise and build the nation desirable not a failing state. A developmental state that manages its resources effectively is created that is if we rise as women refuse to be suppressed. Whenever the economic status deteriorates, us as women are the first victims so I urge all of us women to stand and fight for our rights in as much as building a better nation is concerned. We are tired of the dwindling economy. We want a dignified life as women. A life which has value and which makes our improvements visible,” she said.
Other participants supported that mitigatory measures that the Government has introduced such as abandoning the multi-currency system and introducing the Zimbabwean dollar that has a disproportionate impact on women. They said financial inclusion of women especially those in business, was important. Some articulated that some policies need to be revised since they have drastic implications on a girl child’s education and suggested that there was need to promote women’s rights and desist from a culture marked by corruption.
Women in business who gave presentations encouraged their fellows to support each other so as to close gender gaps and resolve economic challenges. The Indaba was vibrant as women shared their success stories and urged each other never to underestimate the value of a woman’s idea.
In recent years, WCoZ undertook initiatives to increase women’s control and ownership in key economic sectors through capacity building, improved access to financial and technical resources to women entrepreneurs.