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‘Budget allocation should prioritise rural women’

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THE Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre Network (ZWRCN) has called on government to ensure the 2015 National Budget provides adequate support for rural women, who in most cases have to walk long distances in search of basic amenities for their families.

SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

ZWRCN director Pamela Mhlanga told NewsDay yesterday that as the country commemorates the International Day of Rural Women, policymakers should prioritise the plight of rural women who walked long distances in search of water firewood and other family needs.

“In the implementation of ZimAsset, we want to see investment in rural development because there is ample evidence that women suffer most in as far as issues relating to access to water are concerned,” Mhlanga said.

“We want to see investment to ensure rural women have easier access to alternative forms of energy because rural electrification is a long-term measure, and in the short term there is need to alleviate challenges of dwindling energy resources where rural women use firewood and charcoal by investing in alternative sources of energy,” she said. Mhlanga said access to alternative energy sources such as biogas would make life easier for rural women.

“They are inhaling smoke and toxic things when using charcoal and firewood. We also want to see bigger investments in the health of rural women so that they have access to medical services because it is very difficult for rural expectant mothers to get the medical care they need. In a lot of instances, rural women die due to pregnancy complications,” she said.

Senator representing people living with disabilities Annah Shiri said disabled rural women suffered most when it came to water and sanitation issues.

“Disabled rural women cannot travel distances to fetch water. Most of the latrines in rural areas are squatting toilets and disabled women in wheelchairs cannot squat. There is lack of information among them because they cannot walk eight kilometres to attend meetings which other able-bodied women attend and this exacerbates lack of information on ZimAsset, maternal health, cervical cancer, HIV and Aids and even general knowledge,” said Shiri.

She said most rural women also lacked knowledge about their rights, resulting in them failing to own land or to access funding for self-help projects.

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