By Locadia Mavhudzi
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has called for the protection of the rights of vulnerable communities in the wake of the devastating impact of Covid 19 on social, economic and cultural rights.
In his remarks to mark the 2021 International Human Rights Day, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission chairperson Dr Elasto Mugwadi said the state is duty bearer bound to protect and promote human rights.
“This year’s theme is emphasizing on equality hence it serves as a reminder that the state as the principal duty bearer and everyone else must adhere to ensuring equal treatment for all, equality before the law, gender equality and the most imperative to protect and uphold the rights of the most vulnerable,” he said.
“Such groups include women, children, youths, workers, older persons, people with disabilities, communities prone to or affected by natural disasters, people without national documentation, people without sustainable livelihoods and many other minorities.”
Dr Mugwadi said the Covid 19 Pandemic was a public health emergency that was becoming a human rights crisis.
“The Covid 19 pandemic has in many ways negatively impacted the enjoyment of human rights,” he said.
“It has limited access to basic social services, threatening the right to health, the right to life, the right to education amongst many other challenges.
“The Commission urges health institutions and vaccination service providers to ensure that the most marginalized communities can easily access the Covid 19 vaccine by scaling up mobile vaccination.”
This year’s International Human Rights Day theme was Equality – reducing inequalities, – advancing human rights.
Meanwhile, a local organization Women In Communities (WICO) Director Rebecca Chirenga said there were distinctive effects of Covid 19 between the rural and urban communities hence Government and partners should upscale the national response to the crisis.
“Living in a rural community often means girls have little knowledge of their rights and the value of gender equality is not widely understood,” she said.
“This leads to higher incidents of gender-based violence, including abuse, child marriage and early pregnancies.
“COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on millions of people dependent on the informal economy and workers in the formal economy, especially contract and casual workers, their sources of livelihoods and incomes were disrupted in significant ways.
“The majority are women and young people hence the need to provide targeted financial support.”