Politicians urged to change fortunes of rural women

People in rural areas, particularly women, believe the new Zanu (PF) government has the power to change their fortunes and have urged the politicians to address their many challenges immediately.

Locadia Dhamu from Masasa in Buhera.
Locadia Dhamu from Masasa in Buhera.

Women interviewed by The Zimbabwean recently challenged politicians to fulfil their promises to ensure the improvement in the standard of living and development of rural communities.

Hilda Chibanda said government should improve the health facilities in rural areas to give equal access to health.

“We need experts in our health institutions. Travelling to Murambinda Hospital, which is over 70 kilometres away, for treatment is not feasible. Our clinics should have the relevant personnel to ensure that those that develop complications at child birth for example are assisted urgently,” she said.

Chibanda revealed that the health of rural women is compromised because hospitals are far away and experts such as doctors are only found at provincial and district hospitals. She also bemoaned widespread ignorance, saying: “There is no awareness about certain illnesses. So rural women end up believing that illnesses such as cancer are caused by to witchcraft. Most women delay seeking medical attention because of poor information about prevention methods, diagnosis and treatment of such illnesses.”

Locadia Dhamu said there was need for a review of the cost of health care for rural women – especially because they have to travel long distances to access it. “Rural health centres should offer health services for free,” she said. “Government should fulfil its promises, for example on maternal health – where they indicated that pregnant women would be attended to for free. It should also strengthen disease surveillance systems in order to contain disease outbreaks.”

Dhamu lamented the poor road networks in most rural areas and said this thwarted development.

“We are our own community because of the poor roads. Government is working on the country’s major highways and we know that they have the capacity to improve these roads if there is political will,” she said, adding that infrastructural development was important because it dictated the rate of communities’ links to markets.

“Goods and services are expensive for rural communities because of poor road networks. Fares are very high and transport operators shun rural routes because of poor road networks. We fail to market our agricultural products to bigger markets such as Mutare and Chipinge,” she said.

Faina Gwiyongwa, 36, called on the government to invest more in education for rural students.

“Teachers shun rural schools because of poor living and working conditions,” she said. “We expect the government to normalise the situation on incentives. They must scrap incentives for urban teachers so that those who teach in the rural areas are at par with their colleagues.”

Clinic Mukutirwa urged the government to capacitate rural farmers by availing inputs. “There should be transparency on how these inputs are distributed so that farmers are able to engage in productive farming,” she said.

Jonasi Muchafa said government should ensure the provision of basic social services targeted at the poor and vulnerable in society. “It is the duty of government to offer social protection to the elderly. Vulnerable members of society such as orphans should get adequate care and support from government,” he said.

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