Zimbabwe talks of mitigating effects of El Nino-induced drought on girls and women as the world commemorates International Women’s Day 

– As a ministry, we are making sure that we also work with other ministries to obtain evidence-based data regarding the effects of the current phenomenon, Women Affairs Minister said.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe – The world is commemorating International Women’s Day today, and in Zimbabwe, all roads led to Chitora Business Centre in Shurugwi, one of the areas where the glaring effects of the El Nino-induced drought, are negatively impacting the lives of women and girls. 

Shurugwi is in the Midlands Province, 300km south of the capital Harare.

While addressing the media ahead of the IWD in Harare, Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister of Women Affairs, admitted 2024 was not an ordinary year, owing to drought.

“Indeed, 2024 is not an ordinary year, I have been traveling across the country recently and the situation is indeed dire, it is common knowledge that drought will haunt us. We are also aware that climate change also affects women and girls the most.

As we commemorate IWD we are also looking at what government is putting in place and the issue of drought and hunger is also one of the issues being looked at, to put in place mitigation measures against hunger,” Monica Mutsvangwa said.

“Climate change has dried up water sources for many people meaning that women and girls will be expected to travel loss distances in search of water, but we have been talking about the need to increase boreholes across the country by 35 000, there should be a borehole in every village,” Monica added.

Some of the challenges the Minister mentioned include causes of gender-based violence (GBV) and Zimbabwe is still battling with increased cases of GBV. To deal with the scourge the country is in the process of enacting laws aimed at protecting girls and women against GBV.

Certain consequences of climate change, such low water and electricity supplies, a lack of firewood, and even food shortages, have been known to cause conflict in established households.

Lack of electricity leads women to fetch firewood far from their communities, while water shortages in cities have exposed women to sexual exploitation in what was later dubbed “water for sex” at communal boreholes.

However, according to ZIMSTAT and UNFPA, this is not only happening in rural regions; urban groups are also being impacted.

Presently, 35% of Zimbabwean women aged 15 to 49 reports having suffered physical assault since the age of 15, and only 39% of them seek assistance. One in three women in Zimbabwe are victims of gender-based violence.

As things stand, the Zimbabwean government is evaluating how vulnerable its people are to the drought.

In order to ensure that no woman or family goes to bed hungry, Monica Mutsvangwa said, “As a ministry, we are making sure that we also work with other ministries to obtain evidence-based data regarding the effects of the current phenomenon.”

Although food security remains an issue, the Zimbabwean government has made significant progress in closing the gender inequality gap.

“We have taken many steps to address the disparities in our nation; the fact that women hold senior positions in the government, including Attorney General and Persecutor General, shows how committed we are to empowering girls,” Monica continued.  

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