THE United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Ms Maria Riberio has saluted female frontline health workers for doing a great job in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
By Patricia Mashiri
This year’s International Women’s day celebration comes in the midst of a global Coronavirus global pandemic and is being celebrated under the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’’
Ms Riberio said that the UN pays tribute to the women and girls that have sacrificed in the fight against COVID- 19 in so many ways.
The UN and the international community would like to pay tribute to women and girls in Zimbabwe who have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in so many ways. Women and girls have served as frontline health care workers, caregivers, innovators, advocates, community organizers and so much more.
“This year’s theme for IWD is particularly important considering the present situation as it is almost one year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic globally and in Zimbabwe. As we recover from the COVID-19 crisis, we must use the opportunity of rebuilding a better future, to ensure women’s equal participation at all levels in a more inclusive and more resilient future for all people in Zimbabwe,” said Ms Riberio.
She also noted that there was need to recognise women’s decisions and support their leadership as they are the mostly the frontline workers and leadership in decision-making is not sufficiently harnessed.
“Today, I would like to speak about the importance of bridging the leadership gap and empowering women to achieve gender equality in decision-making. One conclusion we can draw from COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe and the world is that the virus has deepened economic, social and gender inequalities with serious implications to both women and girls.
“A study conducted by the WHO found that on average, 41% of COVID-19 victims in Africa are women. Studies also show that while women are often frontline and community workers tasked with supporting national responses and saving lives, their leadership in decision-making is not sufficiently harnessed,” Riberio said
She added that In Zimbabwe, COVID-19 response structures at all levels have noticeably had less representation of women in decision-making positions. This poses a challenge for commitment to build back better and women must have the opportunity to participate in decision-making to the same extent as men.
“We must also ensure that decision-making bodies are gender balanced. More is needed to remove the barriers holding women back, including violence and discrimination against women leaders,” Riberio said.
Government and all Zimbabwean institutions were challenged to take up the UN SG’s 6-point plan for women’s equality which is to ensure equal representation, invest in the care economy, remove barriers to women’s economic inclusion, repeal all discriminatory laws, address violence against women and call out systemic bias.
The Zimbabwean 2013 Constitution through Section 17 recognizes the equality between women and men. It also supports women’s right to full and equal participation in society. This includes women’s equal representation in appointed decision-making positions.