Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition joins the rest of the world in marking the International Women's Day which is commemorated annually on the 8th of March. The day comes at a time when women across the world are challenged by the global economic crisis, civil and political unrest, poverty and hunger. In the midst of such challenges, this year's theme, "Empower Rural Women-End hunger and poverty," calls for collective and multi-sectored efforts towards uplifting the social, economic and political status of women, especially those in rural areas. The theme allows for a reflection on the Zimbabwean situation, as the country still grapples with socio-economic and political crisis.
While other countries take this day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future, Zimbabwean women have little to celebrate. For them it is a time to reflect on the numerous burdens they carry in light of the governance and legitimacy crisis facing the nation. Empowerment for women in the country is far from being realised, more so, for those in rural areas. The government's failure to uphold political stability and thus resuscitate the economy and create jobs for its people has forced men to leave their families behind in search of jobs in other places even beyond the country's borders. Many Zimbabwean women now single-handedly head families, bearing the burden of having to care for the children, the sick and the elderly.
Women constitute 52% of the population in Zimbabwe and thus investment targeted at them in sectors like health, education, agriculture and infrastructural development is key to their empowerment. The government's failure to properly manage resources and prioritize women's issues in Zimbabwe makes one wonder whether its programs, like the Indigenization and Empowerment drive, will benefit women or will only serve to make the male dominated political and economic elites richer widening the gender gap.
The Coalition cautions the government to re-direct its efforts towards the people and particularly towards empowering women. It should put in place stern measures to fight hunger and poverty as this mostly affects women. The Coalition also urges the government to strengthen and support implementation of policies on rural development, gender, health, education and others that have a bearing on women's issues.
As the world celebrates the International Women's Day, it is important for women to speak with one voice and be at the forefront of development, to take their place in upholding peace and demand accountability from their governments.
Issued by: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is a broad based civil society network of over 72 active members comprising churches, women's groups, social movements, residents associations, labour unions, human rights lawyers, and health professionals. It was formed in August of 2001; to focus on democracy, human rights, good governance and sustainable development issues - working locally, regionally and internationally.