BY LORRAINE MUROMO SOUTHERN Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries, including Zimbabwe, are lagging behind in promoting women’s reproductive health rights.
This was revealed last week during the launch of the 2021 #VoiceandChoice Barometer by Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) in collaboration with GenderLinks.
The barometer seeks to measure 100 indicators on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) including gender-based violence (GBV), teenage pregnancies, child marriages, harmful practices and unsafe abortions, HIV and Aids, family planning, maternal health and others.
“The 2021 Barometer reflects slow progress in advancing women’s rights in the Southern African Development Community. In Zimbabwe significant progress has been made around adolescent’s access to SRHR services with 82% of adolescents indicating that they felt respected at health facilities,” a statement by the coalition read.
“However, maternal mortality rate is still high at 458 per 100 000 live births. There is a need for continued awareness and policy strengthening on SRHR.
“The barometer draws attention to the inequality in vaccine rollout across the globe, also known as vaccine apartheid, which has seen rich countries in the global north hoarding vaccines for their populations at the expense of poorer countries in the global south. Only 4% of the 360 million people in Sadc have been fully vaccinated, lower than the global average of 27% in most developed countries.”
WCoZ said access to COVID-19 vaccines should also include women living in rural areas, women living with disability, women living with HIV and Aids, migrant women, and the Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Queer community.
“States should adopt laws and mount campaigns to end child marriages, in line with commitment to 18 years as the minimum age of marriage. They should further abolish discriminatory laws and practices that deny women voice and choice in their sexual and reproductive health rights.”
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The women’s groups also demanded access to safe abortion services.
Follow Lorraine on Twitter @RMuromo