Youth and Women

Address the plight of women, empower the nation…the world at large

Activists demonstrating

By Nyasha Mutena

Women issues are among the least funded sectors in Zimbabwe’s economy for decades yet they make up the majority of workers in the health and education sectors, providing the much needed services in the country and the world at large, a Zoom meeting organized by ActionAid Zimbabwe has unveiled.

The COVID 19 pandemic has adversely affected jobs especially sectors fronted by women as they form the front line of the response.

According to researcher Nyasha Muchichwa, workers in these sectors have either lost their jobs, experienced a decline in real wages and lost paid hence knock on effect on their contributions to NSSA social security schemes.

This has worsened the already skewed distribution of paid and unpaid care work providing a major drawback in achieving goals set under the Decent Work Agenda.

Women are highly likely to bear the huge brunt induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives. It involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives, as well as equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.

Muchichwa said social protection and decent work in general are also regarded as developmental tools and underscored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially SDGs 1, 3, 5 and 8.

He also said women make up the majority of workers in the health and education therefore they deserve gratuity and recognition.

“There is need to have Public Service policies that are geared towards improving the working conditions of women and their empowerment so that they can truly benefit from their efforts,” he said.

ActionAid Zimbabwe recommends the Government of Zimbabwe to fully finance the Zimbabwe Decent Work Country Porgrammes through the national budget.

“As ActionAid, we seek to achieve Poverty Eradication, Gender Equality and Social Justice. In this endeavor, we believe that provision of decent working conditions for all is not just a human rights issue but has the potential to propel national development. We believe that decent work is not just a goal but a driver of sustainable development.

“ActionAid recognizes the various programmes, initiatives and campaigns on decent work for the formal and informal sector workers that have been done by various stakeholders. These include the development of Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCP), processes around formalization strategies by the Government with the assistance of the ILO and extension of social protection to workers in the informal economy through NSSA and supported by the ILO,” said ActionAid Zimbabwe”.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has embarked on various campaigns on decent work, whilst the informal economy associations have also undertaken in-house initiatives to promote social protection for its members.

The emerging finding on these initiatives is that whilst they are good, they suffer from fragmentation and lack of political support as evidenced by the length of time these initiatives have taken before operationalization.

“We believe that it is critical to advance an effective enabling environment within the Public Service through the adoption of progressive policies, establishment of relevant institutional mechanisms and development of key operational processes to ensure a transformed, non-discriminatory, and fully inclusive Public Service, which reflects decent work for all.

“The Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8 emphasize on Gender equality and decent work and economic growth. It is our reckoning that for this to be a reality, decent working conditions play a critical role. We firmly believe that no nation runs without the constant and determined work of the people who live there and strive every day with a sense of service to the public.

While not everyone serves this purpose, those who do are notable for their dedication, and the changes their efforts make in our lives every day,” said ActionAid Zimbabwe.