The Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) joins the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. This year’s theme, “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World” recognises women’s achievements in the political, economic, and social spheres while calling for gender equality.
Women are at the front line of the crisis as health care workers, primary caregivers in the home, community organisers, and some as leaders in organisations and institutions fighting the pandemic.
Women are playing a significant role at national and community levels in promoting equality in the field of human rights and access to justice.
The role that women are playing demonstrates their ability to lead in all sectors of the economy. However, women continue to be excluded from key leadership positions due to social norms and practices that discriminate against them.
The COVID 19 pandemic has reversed the gains made in the fight against gender inequality following the economic disruptions which have resulted in job losses with women disproportionately affected.
Reports indicate that women who constitute two-fifths of the labour force globally have suffered more than half of the total job losses.
Women have had to carry the burden of unpaid work arising from the closure of schools and daycare services.
The pandemic has also seen girls dropping out of school due to pregnancies. Dropping out of school creates a permanent loss in human capital and reduces the chances of girls improving their living standards and making it into leadership positions.
While women are making significant contributions, they are also being disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Statistics show that there has been an increase in the number of reported gender-based violence cases by women since March 2020.
Restrictions on movement arising from the lockdowns have made it harder for victims to get the much-needed help.
The LRF draws attention to the need for the government and the private sector to put in places policies and programmes that will address gender inequality which has been worsened by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Programmes should focus on addressing the loss of employment by women as well as ensuring that girls who dropped out of school are given an opportunity to enrol and further their studies.
The LRF calls for a gendered response to the pandemic by the Government of Zimbabwe as it is evident that pandemics affect women and men differently.