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Duduzile Ndlukulwani

BULAWAYO – Women’s rights movement, Women Of Zimbabwe Arise this week castigated austerity economic measures introduced by finance minister Mthuli Ncube, saying they violated the Maputo protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women, which calls for the protection of women.

Addressing people who attended an International Women’s Day campaign organized by her organisation in the country’s second-biggest city of Bulawayo Friday, WOZA director Jenni Williams said government’s measures, which smack of economic desperation according to many, further impoverished women, who can hardly put food on the table.

Due to emigration which can be linked to its multi-facetted crisis, Zimbabwe tops the list of Sub-Saharan countries on female-headed households, with 45% as of 2018.  Williams said the government’s economic measures had continued to impact negatively on the already distressed Zimbabwean woman, adding there was a need to reconsider.

“They (government) signed the Maputo protocol to the African Charter, Article 24 of which speaks to special protection of women in distress and they committed to helping women in distress, but they are doing the reverse and they must stop it,” said Williams.

“Our main concern is that there are austerity measures that are violating this undertaking and Bulawayo women are badly affected. The government must be more sensitive to the poor women and find ways to balance the budget without increasing poverty and persecution on women.”

WOZA addressed a petition to Bulawayo provincial affairs minister Judith Ncube, airing a number of grievances which pulled women, especially those from Matabeleland, further back economically.

“Our view is that the Maputo protocol compels Zimbabwe to protect the women of Matabelaland, long underdeveloped and marginalized. The Minister of Finance Ncube says he is taking the LID off the pot, allowing the simmering pot to boil over releasing steam. He also called this economic reform- austerity measures,” read the petition.

During an interview with African Voice Global, Williams said the government’s so-called austerity measures made it difficult for women to pay their debts, while the same the same government had a habit of looting from people.

Issues raised before the start of the march at Homestead – corner at corner 3rd Avenue and George Silundika included the high unemployment rate among the youths in the country, prices being pegged in United States dollars, including rentals.

Concerns were also raised over the catastrophic national health services, unavailability of drugs and women’s failure lack of understanding for the monetary policy announced by the finance minister.

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