THE COVID-19 pandemic has further widened existing social and economic inequalities between women and men, leaving women and girls prone to Gender Based Violations (GBV) and other societal ills, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) championing women and girls rights have said.
By Patricia Mahsiri
Speaking during a virtual meeting on the Impact of COVID-19 Stimulus Packages in Zimbabwe on GBV Interventions, Tawanda Zimhunga, Deputy Director Protection Services, Ministry of Public Service Labor and Social Services said when households and communities are placed under pressure, the risk of multiple forms of violence can increase.
Social Protection intervention mitigates risks related to SGBV they are designed to form a coherent system that promotes equity, reliance and opportunities for the poor and vulnerable. Zimbabwe’s social protection system funds social safety nets (SSNs), social insurance, labor market programs and social care services.
“Social protection can address the GBV root cause such as inequality and unequal power relations through increasing girls’ enrollment and attendance at school, increase women’s empowerment and control over key decisions such as household expenditure and contraceptive use. Social protection programs can also reduce and respond to gender-based violence for example if cash transfers can increase economic security, this can lead to a reduction in poverty- related stress,” Zimhunga said.
Ronika Mumbire , Director Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau also emphasized that there was need to analyze increasing trends in GBV cases since the year 2020 which saw cases rising on a daily basis. She also picked out that many factors fueled GBV in homes during the pandemic.
“Drought and crop failure, exacerbated by macro-economic challenges and austerity measures differently affecting communities, inﬂation eroding purchasing power and affordability of food Delivery of healthcare, clean water and sanitation, and education has been constrained -no access to vital services.
“The successive recession experienced in 2019 and 2020 was a story of prolonged droughts seasons, natural disasters (cyclone IDAI), and the COVID -19 pandemic. These challenges require a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and the many other global challenges we face during and after the risks,´Mumbire said
When there is a pandemic, women and girls suffer the most as they are the ones who have duties to look for clean water and food among other things.
Ekenia Chifamba, Director Shamwari Yemwanasikana, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic brought barriers between women and girls who needed help with the potential organizations who had the potential of helping them in curbing GBV.
“Most women and girls could not report violence during the COVID-19 because most of them did not have bus fares for them to get to the nearest centers where they could find help, others testified that they could not have access to phones since the perpetrators were always home with them.
“GBV is a pandemic within a pandemic we need to do more to empower women and girls. Sociology-economically, women need jobs to ensure sustainability during post COVID-19 era. These women need to be linked to where projects and markets are. Education wise we need more of them in Vocational training centres so that they are fully equipped.
“Shamwari yemwanasikana has established a demonstration in Murehwa where women and girls will learn new skills. We need more of those programs. Cash transfers should be directed to bursaries to make sure girls go back to school,” Chifamba said.