Women still on the fringes: ZWRCN

Statistically speaking, women are still marginalised and measures should be put in place to correct gender imbalances, according to attendees of a gender stakeholder meeting held recently in Harare.

The majority of cross-border traders are women.
The majority of cross-border traders are women.

The Presidential Land Review Committee, set up to examine the impact and implementation of the 2000 land reform programme, noted that women did not benefit as much as their male counterparts.

Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network reports that the accelerated land reform programme did not correct gender imbalances in land ownership, but focused on the ability not need, thereby disadvantaging women.

“Since 86% of women in the country live in the rural areas, where they depend on land for their livelihoods and families, women play a significant role in agriculture,” a representative from the organisation said.

Loans for women

Information from the Small Enterprises Development Corporation shows that women apply for loans in areas such as cross-border trading, general trading, vending, poultry and market gardening.

Economist, Floyd Kadete, said the loans revealed a discrepancy in terms of how women were socialized.

“They were made to think that these are ‘feminine’ areas and they think that they can sustain the pressure. It’s a stereotype and most women never thought they were marginalising themselves,” said Kadete. “Statistics show that most women are employed in the informal sector where labour segregation is rife. Most women in the informal economy concentrate on buying vegetables, sweets and clothing, and on cross-border trading. Men are involved in what has been termed ‘small to medium enterprises’ such as carpentry, welding, tailoring, construction and sculpture, which receive support from the Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises as they are viewed as sustainable and profitable,” he said.

Information from ZWRCN also shows that women have been sidelined in politics and decision making as only 17% of House of Assembly representatives is female and there are only five female traditional chiefs.

Sociologist lecturer and social commentator, Pardon Taodzera, blamed the patriarchal system in Zimbabwe for the continued marginalisation of women.

“The persistence of gender inequalities is prescribed by tradition, culture and religion. Culturally, a woman is expected to be dependent, submissive, well-mannered, hard working and conservative while a man is expected to be the opposite,” he said.

Erratic implementation

Although a lot needs to be done to address gender based imbalances, the government made significant strides by passing laws such as Sex Disqualification Act which allowed women to hold public office, the Equal Pay legislation and the Labour Relations act. However, social commentators said the implementation of the laws had been erratic.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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