As we commemorate Workers Day, under the local theme: We are at crossroads, arise and organize – do not mourn, it is opportune to reflect on how far the struggle to dignify the workforce has come. It is from getting a correct perspective of how far we have come that we get an appreciation of how far we are yet to go.
A look at the relationship between the workforce and employers reveals the need for organisations like us WLSA Zimbabwe to roll out our sleeves and put shoulders to wheel. It is clear that the level playing field is still unequal for men and women in the workforce. Women continue to be on the sidelines particularly where economic policies and decisions are concerned.
The Women’s Coalition launched the Zimbabwe SADC Gender Barometer for 2017, early this year. The Barometer revealed that there is a low percentage of women in the formal sector employment, and women’s limited access to and control of country’s productive resources is worrisome. More men (30%) than women (14%) are in paid employment in Zimbabwe, with more women (14, 9%) than men (7, 3%) being unemployed.
In the Agricultural sector, which is the backbone of the country’s economy, women contribute 54% of the labour force but they generally earn less than men and are only 18percent of the workforce in paid employment in the sector. The figures are even lower in the mining sector, where despite women suffering the effects of mining activities, women derive very little benefits from the sector.
As WLSA Zimbabwe we are also concerned about the menial benefits women receive in most sectors of the economy with women’s unpaid productive activities (child care, domestic household chores, caring for the sick and elderly) not included in the National Accounts system.
This is despite the fact that section 24 of the Constitution stipulates that men and women should have equal opportunities to work in order to attain a decent living for themselves, their children and their families. This calls for the State and all institutions of Government at all levels to implement measures such as family care that enable women to enjoy a real work opportunity.
Zimbabwe has signed and ratified International and Regional commitments that promote and protect women’s rights like the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and thus include the provisions on women’s right to access control of and ownership over land and other productive resources.
As we commemorate this year’s Workers Day, we call upon Government to honor its obligation to ensure gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
Women and Law in Southern Africa
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Phone: +263 4 253001-3
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