180 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 24 September 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 752 after 27 new cases were reported. Active cases went down to 1 482, following the record of 27 new cases and 36 recoveries. The total number of recoveries stands at 6 043. The death toll stands at 227.
We commend the effort to shift the messaging and communication of contracting and combating COVID-19. We applaud the citizens who have publicly declared that they are COVID-19 survivors and are sharing their experiences and stories to assist communities to better understand a pandemic riddled with miscommunication and misfires. We once again urge the media and citizens to reconsider the manner in which they share and respond to instances of COVID-19 positivity in communities and with public figures. It is critical to build awareness and urge vigilance of COVID-19 without driving fear and stigma.
Critical Emerging Issues
The Right to Water
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe through its members and partners, continues to reveal that the nation is facing a water crisis that requires urgent redress. The correlation between water and gender cannot be overstated. It is an undisputed fact that water plays a crucial role in the socio-economic status of women. WCoZ monitoring in all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe, through its networks and structures, reveals that women and girls collect water more often than men and boys.
Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right for achieving gender equality and sustainable development. WCoZ thus submits that an unresolved water crisis will inherently give birth to an unresolved gender equality crisis. The basis of this argument has been corroborated in the current context of Zimbabwe, where water shortages have negatively impacted on women in the following ways:
- Increased burden of unpaid care-work as women have to constantly travel long distances in search of water for washing of clothes, food preparation and household hygiene.
- Poor sanitation and hygiene, particularly for women and girls during their menstrual cycle.
- Nursing mothers require more water than anyone else: According to the WHO studies, the basic requirement for a lactating woman engaged in even moderate physical activity is 2.5 litres a day.
- Lack of privacy.
- Risk of sexual harassment and violence against women while fetching water from undesignated sources.
- We therefore recommend long term comprehensive measures to address the water situation.
- The Government, working with other relevant stakeholders, should ensure that the overall national sanitation and framework is gender-sensitive
The Right to Privacy
We continue to raise concerns over the reports of young people being asked to produce evidence of their positive HIV status at police check points and road blocks. We note the problematic incidents include being asked for empty Anti-Retroviral medicine containers or health slips indicating HIV positive status to permit the holder to move around freely.
- We highlight section 57 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to privacy by providing that every person has a right not to have their health condition disclosed.
- We, therefore, urge respect of citizens’ fundamental human rights and call upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to be vigilant and alert for human rights violations of this nature by members of security services.
- We urge the Parliament of Zimbabwe to act with speed in complying with the Court’s judgment on implementation of section 210 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Access to sanitary wear for female pupils
As marginalised sections of the population, in particular women and girls continue to face the brunt of the lockdown, challenges continue to mount 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.
This comes particularly at a time when schools are re-opening, and female pupils are expected to report for school, without any means to access pads for use during the menstrual cycle in school.
- We call upon Government to develop and implement programs that will ensure that female pupils access free sanitary wear as they return to school.
- We, therefore, recommend that Government rightly directs its attention to the challenges that women and girls are currently facing, and address those appropriately.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)