EJWP bemoans lack of gender inclusivity in financial, economic policies

A woman preparing land

WOMEN have been left counting their losses due to financial and economic policies that are not gender inclusive, a local civic society group, Economic Justice for Women Project (EJWP) has said.

EJWP recently launched its policy brief on gender inclusive economic and financial policies in Zimbabwe, which revealed policy dissonance where women are said to be sidelined in financial policies crafted by the government.

The policy brief stated that Zimbabwe’s economic and financial policies and legal frameworks have been characterised by a myriad of challenges emanating from narrow and shallow implementation, as well as lack of political will to implement them, poor targeting due to gender neutrality and inadequate institutional frameworks.

They said most financial and economic policies were “half baked” and were not gender inclusive.

“For example, the fall in foreign exchange, inflation and financial instability caused by limited fiscal space since 1997 impacts women more as they sit at the periphery of the mainstream economy due to cultural, systemic and structural exclusion,” EJWP said.

“The embracing of the multi-currency regime and conversion of savings to United States dollars in 2009 had women lose their savings. Women are known to make their savings through organising into groups popularly known “mukando” (rounds), outside the formal system. No system or mechanism has been put in place to quantify the losses by women in those informal arrangements and it disqualifies women from compensation through government interventions,” it said.

In 2019, the government changed its fiscal policy through Statutory Instrument 142 reverting to mono-currency, which brought back the Zimbabwean dollar as the official currency.

EJWP said introduction of the Zimbabwean dollar threw women under the bus as they lost savings, especially in the informal sector.

“This means that women have been losing out in both fiscal and monetary policies that have been blind to their status and positions which they occupy in the financial services sector.

“The frameworks that have been put in place to cushion citizens and businesses from the financial shocks were gender blind. For example, the interbank exchange rate, the floating exchange system and the foreign exchange auction system do not recognise the women-dominated sectors and the nature of savings for women and how deeply they are impacted by policy changes,” they said.

There have been calls to prioritise alignment of laws and policies targeted at women’s financial and economic empowerment and to ensure government blueprints such as the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and Agenda 2030 are gender inclusive.

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