COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects Women and Children
June 9, 2020
Thank you very much for our concern about us in Zimbabwe. We are also concerned about the situation in the U.S. in terms of the Covid-19. We continue to pray that the situation will get better and that a cure will be found soon. Here in Zimbabwe the official numbers are quite low and we are not sure if this is the true reflection of the reality on the ground. Just like in the U.S. the lockdown restrictions have had a huge negative impact on the populace. This is compounded by the fact that before the Covid-19 pandemic our country was facing a myriad of problems politically and economically. Economically before the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe had become an economic basket case. Our economy had become—according to reputable statistical data— over 80% informal. Here we are talking of around 90% unemployment rate. Because of this many households were depending on vending, that is buying and selling second hand clothes and other things to make ends meet. Inflation is another big problem. Prices are rising such that many people cannot afford to buy the basic necessities of life like bread and mealie-meal. The drought also compounded our problems because many households need food relief. I read from other sources that between 5 and 7 million people would need food assistance. If the figure is 7 million, it means almost half the population is in need of assistance. Unfortunately in some cases the distribution of food has been politicized. Food assistance is given to people who belong to the ruling party. If one is from the opposition they are denied food assistance.
What is also depressing is that there are reports in some media outlets that some financial aid has been diverted by the powers that be. The money is misappropriated for the benefit of the politically connected—especially the political elite. Politically we have had cases of some people being arrested—especially members of the opposition political party the MDC Alliance. About three weeks ago we had some of them (5) abducted and tortured for violating lockdown rules. The five were women.
My major take on this is that it has affected women and children more. They are more vulnerable than their male counterparts. So Covid-19 has brought to the fore these economic and political injustices. Women are the major victims. There are increased cases of abuse of women because of the lockdown. People who would normally stay apart for prolonged periods of time are now forced to stay together and it gives rise to cases of gender based violence. Very sad indeed.
I hope this will give you some idea of our situation in Zimbabwe.
God richly bless you.
From Davison Mukandatsama, Executive Secretary, African Baptist Churches in Zimbabwe