167 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 11 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 479. While 26 new cases were recorded, active cases were reported as 1 595, following 25 new recoveries. A total of 5 660 recoveries have been recorded to date. As at 11 September, the death toll stood at 224.
Concerned by growing reports of pregnant women struggling to access pre-natal care due to lack of access to public transport particularly in Matabeleland North. Reports highlight that women in marginalized and remote areas are failing to access transport to ferry them to their respective nearest medical facilities for desperately needed care. Gravely concerned that these challenges have continue to manifest in other parts of the country as well, despite the best effort of service providers at village level. Noting that public transport impedes the justiciability of rights directly and compels desperate pregnant women to resort to utilize transport operators who are operating illegally and were not possible unsafe home deliveries.
- We therefore remind the Government and other independent commissions that pregnant women are entitled to their right to healthcare as contemplated by section 76 of the Constitution.
- We therefore continue to call for measures to support women and ensure that they access pre and post-natal care, and reproductive health care services without any impediments due to COVID-19.
Critical Emerging Issues
Access to sexual reproductive rights and sanitary wear
Our community monitoring reports continue to highlight the challenges women and girls continue to face in the time of COVID-19, particularly on access to sexual reproductive health products, such as sanitary wear. This challenge has been attributed to budgetary and financial constraints presented by the lockdown measures, which have resulted in most households losing their income generating capacity. Noting that this status quo, will continue to obtain indefinitely, due to the fact that the lockdown period was declared indefinite.
- We therefore recommend that Government rightly directs its attention to the challenges that women and girls are currently facing, and address those appropriately, with special consideration of girls who are commencing school next week.
- We call upon Government to develop and implement programs that will ensure that women and girls access free sanitary wear during the lockdown.
Safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights in the time of COVID-19
We continue to bring to the fore, safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights, during COVID-19. This is anchored on adequate representation of women in decision-making position with the COVID-19 response structures. We emphasize that women’s solutions should be informed by women’s experiences and lived realities.
We therefore highlight lack of adequate women’s representation in the health structures, particularly taking into consideration the recent substantive appointments made in the Ministry of Health and Childcare. We provide the following recommendations.
- A gender lens approach to all COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts by Government, Parliament, Decision-makers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
- Implementation of Constitutional provisions, particularly, sections 17, 56 and 80, which speak to gender balance, and equality in representation in all spheres of the Zimbabwe society.
- Inclusion of more women’s rights organisations in the taskforce teams at all levels.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)