HerStory

Stories about IYWD's involvement with young women in the community

Active Solidarity in fighting against COVID-19

“From Iceland to Taiwan and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage a messy patch for our human family” this is according to Forbes. We as the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) proactively partnered the Government of Zimbabwe through the Mashonaland Central Provincial Taskforce to mitigate the horrific health and socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young women and rural communities.

It is apparent that women as a marginalised group feel the effects of this pandemic on a large scale mainly because women; in particular young women, are the primary care givers of each household. Yet, they have limited access to information due to the gendered digital divide among other factors.

In an effort to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on marginalised young women, we take you through some of our actions for active solidarity.

What we are doing

On 27 March, Zimbabwe declared a 21 days total Lockdown to be enforced from 30 March which was extended on 19 April and 1 May respectively. According to a survey we conducted with young women on the Lockdown, it revealed that the majority lacked information on the pandemic and lockdown thereof. 100% of all respondents indicated the lack of support services and safety for young women during the lockdown. On 31 March, we issued an urgent call for the government of Zimbabwe to ensure a gendered response to COVID-19.

With support from Diakonia, we launched a Community Awareness and Resilience (CAR) initiative on 15 April 2020 to disseminate critical information on COVID-19 in vernacular languages. We are also partnering the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Mashonaland Central Provincial Taskforce in the initiative. The campaign started in a farming community Concession where we were joined by the Provincial Medical Director (PMD) and the Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC) for Mashonaland Central.

 IYWD staff, Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC), Provincial Medical Director (PMD) and other COVID-19 Taskforce members join IYWD on the inaugural awareness campaign in Concession, Mazowe District on 15 April 2020
 

To date, we have reached to more than 20 rural, peri-urban, farming and mining wards and more than 50 000[1] households in 4 districts of Mazowe, Bindura, Shamva and Guruve.

How are we doing it?

Mobile Caravan

We are making use of a mobile caravan that is branded with messages on COVID-19, its symptoms, how it spreads and prevention methods. The mobile caravan also contains pre-recorded messages in vernacular (Shona) that plays loudly through a PA System. Our messages emphasise precautionary measures than can be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women as guided by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the World Health Organisation. Surely no young woman should be left behind.

Mobile caravan covid19 awareness in Glendale, Mazowe

Message through music

We are fortunate to have a local talented young woman who produced an educative song on COVID-19. Tsitsi Masawi and her Culture Galore band produced PaitaMhute (Shona phrase for ‘there is a mist’) track which educates talks about signs and symptoms of COVID-19, precautionary measures and where to call when one suspects that they may have the virus. The song plays from our Mobile Caravan and we are also distributing it on our social media including on whatsapp. Join in our Active Solidarity efforts by sharing the song in your networks.

 

What we are observing:

From areas we have gone thus far, we had mixed encounters. In some areas activity was rather low in most public places, both in rural and urban areas. In some areas, there was high activity. For example one of the rural growth points in Mutumba, Shamva District were deserted.   In another rural growth point, at Goora shopping centre there was high human activity, and no observance of social distancing. The police officers we encountered in those remote areas either had minimal personal protective equipment or none at all.

High human activity and no observance of social distancing in Gora

The majority of shops closed at Mutumba growth point in Shamva District

Our recommendations

·         Food and water are basic human rights that are enshrined in section 77 of the Zimbabwean Constitution. The government must ensure the urgent provision of these rights during the Lockdown and entire time of fighting against the pandemic.

·         In providing food and other social safety nets to cushion families, the government must ensure that high levels of transparency and accountability are upheld for the fair and non-political distribution of such to all vulnerable families

·         Health professional and other essential services must urgently be provided with personal protective equipment

As IYWD we remain committed to the fight against COVID 19 in Zimbabwe and will keep sharing our efforts to inspire hope and vigilance. We also want to invite all those who may be interested in joining our Active Solidarity Community for Community Awareness and Resilience during COVID-19.

 

 



[1] Based on housing and population statistics of toured areas from the local governments in the Province

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