Women question govt’s sincerity on COVID-19 social safety nets

BY SILAS NKALA

WOMEN have questioned the government’s sincerity in providing safety nets as a stop-gap measure to the COVID 19-borne challenges.

This comes after reports that most deserving people have not received anything from government since the start of lockdown in April, while Zanu PF-linked beneficiaries have allegedly been paid.

The concerns by women emerged during the Citizen Social Accountability Engagement Forums organised by Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) in partnership with Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT).

Mutasa Youth Forum (MYF) was also part of the organisers who were supported by the Christian Aid. The meetings were held in Mutasa District, Manicaland province early this week.
WALPE, in a statement released on Thursday, said was resolved at the meetings that community leaders should engage the Social Welfare department on the upkeep of People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly.

“Some PWDs and elderly have not been benefiting from the COVID-19 government aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare,” part of the statement read.

“At the meetings, community leaders met and dialogued with rights holders on pertinent developmental issues affecting the communities.

“Developmental issues, peace building strategies, constitutional awareness exercises and other challenges affecting the community were discussed and solutions were proffered.”
The lobby group added: “One of the major reasons for these forums was for women to demand for accountability, affordable and quality public service provisions including health, education, and sanitation.”

“WALPE states that key issues that were raised from all the wards include; poor health services at clinics, poor access to education, lack of aid from the social welfare, poor sanitation, rise in child marriages, poor infrastructure and gender based violence.”

Women, WALPE said, complained that there were only male nurses at a local clinic and the situation was making them uncomfortable, especially when discussing sexual and reproductive health issues.

“The lack of transport as a result of COVID-19 restrictions is making it difficult for women to access health facilities that provide better and affordable services including pre and post-care.

“The discussions led to solutions and clear time frames with the majority of duty bearers present promising feedback in the next three weeks,” WALPE said.

“One of the major solutions that came out from all the forums was to include women and People living with disability (PWDs) in all the important or decision making meetings such as council budget meetings.”

The organisation said it was suggested that fundraising of sanitary wear for school children must be conducted and authorities must be engaged on the Pungwe Water Project so that people can have access to water.

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