By Tererai Obey Sithole
As an annual ritual, countries world over come together on the eighth of March in commemorating the International Women’s Day, a day set to celebrate and appreciate all women.
In the same spirit of commemorating this special day, in a few words, I thought of making some reflections on women in Zimbabwe under the contemporary context and how they are subjected to an array of challenges.
While elsewhere there are a plethora of tremendous efforts worthy celebrating, done by women for us all to feed on the yield, there are instances in which similar efforts are annihilated in our motherland.
Empowering women is a critical agenda that warrants serious consideration by all progressive governments and institutions at all material times, sadly this standard seem to be uncommon in some contexts and Zimbabwe is not an exception.
Apparently Zimbabwe, under the incumbent regime has become one of the top countries to prove beyond any doubt that they have a penchant of disrespecting women in many spheres of their daily lives.
In a country with magnanimous percentages of unemployment exacerbated by corruption that has since time immemorial led to the collapse of the formal sector, multitudes have found themselves solely sustaining their lives through trade in the informal economy.
While this has become the order of the day for many, trade in the informal economy albeit its notable significance to the functionality of the economy, it seems to have been criminalized as evidenced by incessant running battles between the police and vendors.
When the running battles arise, we undesirably note that women are then subjected to chubby degrading treatment ranging from sexual harassment during the process to being frog marched into police vehicles that are not women friendly.
All this happens simply because the women would have dared to irk a living and take care of their families out of vending, thus, one can argue that this is a clear slaughter of the women’s livelihoods and those of their dependents.
An eye on the daily college and university life of a regular female student also evidently that our country can be equated to an abattoir predestined to slaughter the girl child’s ambition at all cost.
In a country where most universities fail to provide sufficient accommodation for their students, many seek alternative accommodation off campus in surrounding suburbs where some libidinous home owners prey on some of these desperate students on promises of discounted rentals in return.
As if that will not be enough woe for the girl child, even in class, in some instances, unhinged male lectures are shameless to ask as for sexual favors threatening failure in courses to those who may happen to resist and some out of desperation succumb to the pressure.
In the arts and entertainment industry, I have equally noted moments when some successful and promising women being blackmailed and called all sort of names, all this done to dampen their spirits and push them away of what I believe to be their area of passion.
The UN Women announced the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day as, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” ironically in my motherland, when women #ChooseToChallenge the status quo and lead, their efforts are thwarted with a state sponsored heavy hand.
Women leadership has from time to time scandalized, the political terrain is often made acrimonious for women participation, in some instances the legislation and deliberate practices are deliberately given life just to relegate women to the peripheries of leadership and decision making zones.
It is beyond any reasonable doubt that women in Zimbabwe are traversing in murky waters and more dismaying is that most of the challenges emanate and are aggravated by a leadership crisis that perpetuate rather than regulate the burden faced by women and the girl child.
Zimbabwe is more of a large abattoir wherein any aspiration of women is slaughtered before it matures significantly to provide a weighty result beneficial to many, our is indeed a crisis of leadership, the current crop is sufficiently ignorant of the need to empower women.
Given the current disaster, where so much against women happens under the watch of those perceived to be the leaders, I salute every woman who is enduring in this uneven field to stand tall and stay focused to achieve their goals.
Tererai Obey Sithole, Development Enthusiast & youth leader currently serving as the MDC A Youth Chairperson.