By Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a dim light on the progress made in achieving gender equality by 2030 in Zimbabwe as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
A little over one year since the pandemic struck, a myriad of studies and surveys have reported exacerbation of gender inequalities as women and girls continue to bear the brunt of unpaid labour, while being disproportionately at risk of violence compared to their male counterparts.
The pandemic is indeed not only a health crisis but also a social one.
The COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to curb the spread of the disease, such as national lockdowns have resulted in what is now dubbed “The Shadow Pandemic” as emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified. Teenage pregnancies are also on the rise as a result of the lockdowns.
The world has come to understand that violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights.
Such a recognition illustrates that gender-based violence is not as a result of women and girls’ innate vulnerability, but a deeply-rooted structural discrimination against women and girls that perpetuates gender inequality.
Gender inequality lies at the very root of gender-based violence, and unless the issue is addressed, a future where women and girls live free from violence and discrimination is futile. Thus, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues and efforts to curb its spread intensify, now is the time to equally buckle up and work hard to achieve gender equality in spite of the challenges the pandemic has revealed.
This is a matter of urgency as women are at the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as healthcare and frontline workers both at institutional level and at home.
The Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls is so critical now more than ever in the fight against gender-based violence in Zimbabwe.
The European Union (EU) has committed USD21m for phase 1 of implementation of the Spotlight Initiative and is leading the fight for gender equality from the front. The Spotlight Initiative takes the EU political commitments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and particularly SDG 5, to the next level.