Fridah Muyale-Manenji, an African women, and an article in the Times of Zambia highlight problems affecting women in Africa.
Fridah Muyale-Manenji, an African women, writes in Echoes, a World Council of Churches’ publication:
“In Africa, women have mostly been involved in farming, in employment as civil servants, and in industry. They have also been involved in small-scale entrepreneurships. No doubt, these sectors have been severely affected by the introduction of trade liberalization. Women on this continent contribute the most critical factor in agricultural production and agriculture. Yet liberalization has failed to ensure the availability of credit, agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and insecticides at affordable prices. The marketing of their produce has been thrown in the hands of businessmen whose sole objective is profit maximisation. The result – food security in Africa is highly threatened. Women constitute 60% percent of the communal farmers in Zimbabwe. In rural areas the impact has been so serious that rural urban migration has increased to unfortunate proportions. This in turn has led to the increase of squatters in urban areas and crime which affects mostly women and children.
In Zimbabwe, some women have resorted to cross-border trade. This has had its own social and cultural repercussions. Children in this case are left out of parental care and the number of rape cases on young children has become an alarming cause of concern. In Zimbabwe alone, there is an average of four reported cases of rape every day. In other cases there have been reports of married women getting involved in extra-marital affairs once they cross the border while the spouses they have left behind indulge in the same, complicating and worsening the AIDS pandemic situation. Children no longer sit around the fireplace in the evening to listen to stories that promote the values of respect, integrity, peace, love and unity, even in the rural areas where this sort of environment would fit best. People – men, women and children – are all engrossed and embroiled in the struggle for survival – the struggle to get a bowl of mealie-meal to fill the tummy at least for the day…
… In many countries, it has always been the responsibility of the man to go out and fend and provide for his family. This has changed. Men and women both leave home in search of the available labour. In fact, in cases where there are massive retrenchments, you now find men at home while the woman goes to work. This has hence affected the household responsibilities, where you find change of roles when a man has to wash and look after the children. In cases where the man goes to work, the woman is forced to become involved in supplementary activities such as sewing, selling vegetables and knitting to complement her husband’s salary. In these countries, women have suffered disproportionately from the impact of globalization. There are very many men who have been retrenched too, but when you look at the statistics you can see the difference. A company in Lesotho, for instance, was required to lay off 50% of its work force, and it ended laying off all the women workers. Under ESAP, states are required to reduce public spending. The immediately affected areas are health and education. In most of our African societies, it is the responsibility of the women to take care of the health not only of themselves, but also of the children in the home.
Many girls have dropped out of school because their families cannot afford to pay all the school fees. Zimbabwe has not yet seen the extent to which this can go, but people from Ghana or Uganda who have lived under SAPs for many years and whose countries have been quoted by the World Bank as “success stories” will tell you of the majority of a whole generation who have not gone to school – the majority of whom are women. In Africa, there is a limit to your capacity to enjoy your rights if you have not gone to school. It means that you may not get a job and therefore your economic rights (which are basic human rights) are affected. The first challenge facing women today is education. Education must empower women with knowledge of their rights and how to seek redress should such rights be violated.”
Source: Muyale-Manenji, Fridah. “The effects of globalization on culture in Africa in the eyes of an African woman.” ECHOES. 1998. World Council of Churches. http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/jpc/effglob.html
An article in the Times of Zambia notes:
“…Women are among those with less access to land, while accounting for a large share in small-scale food production. Land is a source of food, shelter, social status and power. Land is also a source of employment opportunities. Hence lack of access to this primary resource is largely responsible for the poverty that haunts the poor in Zambia, particularly women…
…most women in Zambia today, whether living in towns or rural areas, do not enjoy the same rights to land as men.
…because women do not have equal rights to property ownership, widowhood usually means loss of the right of access to fields where their labour has been invested, and to their homes.
Better access not only to land as a means of production, but access to land as a right. There is therefore need to revisit existing institutional mechanisms to ensure that rights to land are acknowledged as basic human rights and that women’s equal rights are effectively incorporated into land policy and tenure programmes.”
Source: “Women’s Access to Land Vital in Poverty Fight.” The Times of Zambia. May 13, 2008. http://allafrica.com/stories/200805130342.html
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