Economic Justice for Women Project notes with concern the announcement (On Saturday night) on the increase in the price of fuel. We hereby highlight the ruthless effects such a move is having on young women in Zimbabwe. In the midst of the incremental effect on prices on basic commodities that was caused by the fuel crisis, the announcement of the increase will worsen inflation rates. As an organization working with young marginalized women we feel that this announced increase is a direct attack and violation of the socio-economic rights of every citizen but especially women who constitute the majority of poor citizens. We are mourning our right to sustainable livelihoods.
Fuel is a critical commodity central in driving the entire economy beginning at household level. For a number of basic reasons, women need to travel in pursuit of economic opportunities, for education purposes and to seek health services among others. Basic economic principles will highlight that you cannot continue fighting market forces that will lead to a steep rise in transport fares that have already been effected. The high unemployment trends in Zimbabwe have seen most young women including an increasing number of graduates unemployed. The central government has taken the alternative livelihood source by making vending illegal leaving us desperate for life. Historically, young women’s voices have been ignored in decision making though we critically suffer effects of policy reforms and decision-making. There is clear failure by government to provide alternatives to ensure social security for its citizens, particularly the most vulnerable groups. If the cost of living has become unbearable for employed groups, what about the unemployed young women? EJWP believes that the poorer women are, the more vulnerable they remain to all forms of abuse.
The security of women is still under threat. There is reduced availability of public commuter buses, while if any, they are beyond the reach of many. This will force women to use pirating cars ’mushika shika’,which are readily available and often slightly cheaper though not registered to commute members of the public. EJWP would like to draw our government attention to the intolerable number of cases of the murder, physical abuse, assault and even rape of young women desperately using these means of transport. Situations created by increased fuel prices are a cheap sacrifice of human dignity and life itself.
Female farmers producing vegetables and other perishable agricultural products have made countless losses as they desperately attempt to secure affordable transport to deliver their vegetables to their markets leading to huge losses. In some instances truck drivers are demanding hard currency, which the women in question has no access to. We recommend our leadership to strike a reasonable balance between viability of capitalists’ investments and the social security of young women and other groups of excluded citizens.
The effects will worsen the vulnerability of commuting adolescent girls who have been abused by commuter operators in return for free rides to and from school. As an institution, in solidarity with marginalized women recommend an urgent address of the current economic situation for their physical, emotional, socio-economic security. The dignity of our people will continue to be ripped apart with reforms taking the direction of focusing on protecting businesses rather than its people.
We continue to recommend for socio-economic policies that leave no one behind, beginning with the most disadvantaged communities of Zimbabweans.
Source: Economic Justice for Women Project