The Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises (MWACSMED) Sithembiso Nyoni has bemoaned the rampant child marriages that are resulting in the deaths of underage girls in the country.
Minister Nyoni said this in Harare today while launching the International Day of Rural Women running under the theme “Rural Women Cultivating Food for All.”
“I wish to express my great concern over reports of young girls dying whilst giving birth, which is evidently more prevalent in rural communities. The Ministry notes with distress another recent sad incident of a girl child, Nokutenda Hwaramba of Norton who died at a shrine in Bikita while giving birth…this is one of the many incidents of maternal deaths occurring among children and still fresh in our minds is the death of Annah Machaya who also died at a shrine in Marange area in 2021”
The Minister said women are the majority communal area dwellers constituting 61% of the farmers and providing 70% labour. She said women have traditionally been assigned the onerous role of care giving in their families.
“Rural women work 16 to 18 hours a day and spend at least 49% of their time on agricultural activities and about 25% on domestic activities,” she said.
She further said rural women “play a leading role in the provision of essential needs which include food, care for the sick, and conducting all the household chores. In fact, globally, one in three employed women work in agriculture, collect biomass fuels and manually processes food materials and more than 80% of households rely on women and girls for water collection.”
Minister Nyoni noted that studies have shown that rural women work longer hours compared to men which has a negative impact on their health as they have little or no rest. Furthermore, “the gender disparities in ownership, access to and control of livelihood resources such as land, water, energy as well as credit, knowledge and labour negatively affect women’s food production,” she pointed out.
She said as a mitigatory measure the Ministry, “has put in place some programmes to ensure that rural women effectively participate in the following sectors: agriculture, mining, tourism, trade and manufacturing.”
The national launch will be held at John Landa Nkomo High School Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North Province on the 14th of October 2022. Thereafter, commemorations will be in all Provinces and Districts.