Austerity measures impinge on women’s rights: Woza

Woza leader Jenni Williams


WOMEN of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) on Friday petitioned Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister, Judith Ncube over the austerity measures and high taxation amid concern that government measures had impoverished women.

Last year, government introduced a 2% electronic transaction tax, which was widely criticised as counter-productive after it ignited price volatility.

The women’s rights activists marched to Mhlahlandlela government offices to hand over the petition as they celebrated International Women’s Day.

Woza, in its petition, said women in Bulawayo have been hard hit by austerity measures.

“Please, could government be more sensitive to the poor women and find ways to balance the budget without increasing poverty and persecuting women. The Minister of Finance [Mthuli] 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,” the petition read.

Woza director, Jenni Williams told Southern Eye that government should stop looting from citizens.

Williams said women who took part in the peaceful demonstration were aggrieved by the high taxation and raised their concern over the recently announced monetary policy statement, in which the central bank introduced the new real time gross settlement currency, which is weaker than the United States dollar.

Hazel Gandie representing the youth said high unemployment levels had left child-headed families destitute and was forcing the girl child into prostitution.

Other issues that were raised by the women include the high cost of medication, rentals being pegged in hard currency, sanitary wear being out of reach of many women, girls and their failure to understand the monetary policy statement.

They also raised concern over the deteriorating health services, water problems and failure to access cash at banks.

The petition was also copied to Ncube.

The International Women’s Day was celebrated under the theme #BalanceforBetter, stressing the need for women from marginalised communities to be protected.

Meanwhile, Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) has raised concern over Zimbabwe’s failure to fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal 5 and Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provide for gender equality in various aspects of leadership including in political and government positions.

“As WALPE, we commemorate this year’s occasion of IWD on the back of regression in women representation in leadership positions at parliamentary and local authority levels as well as in the private sector. According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of the 210 parliamentary seats, 29 women (13,8% of the total were directly elected in the 2013 election, the figure dropped to 26 (12,3%) during the July 2018 elections,” WALPE said.

“In local government elections, the percentage of female councillors dropped from 16% in 2013 to 13,3% in 2018. This is a worrying trend which shows that Zimbabwe is far from attaining the Sustainable Development Goal 5 and Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provide for gender equality.”