Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The challenges facing women in Zimbabwe

Women’s rights around the world is an issue that WI members feel very strongly about. In June 2007, members attending our AGM voted to send a letter to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband about women’s rights in Zimbabwe.

Based on our Women’s Human Rights resolution of 1999, the letter expressed our concern at the Zimbabwean Government’s actions and urged the Foreign Secretary to use his influence to take action to help women in Zimbabwe access affordable sanitary protection without threat or intimidation.

While the government’s response to our letter highlighted various initiatives it supported in Zimbabwe, none directly addressed the issue of women’s sanitary protection.

Since Zimbabwe’s economic decline began, the price of sanitary goods has increased to three-quarters of a woman’s monthly salary. Most Zimbabwean women simply cannot afford this.

In late 2005, the Dignity! Period. campaign was launched by Action for South Africa (ACTSA). This was to support the rights of Zimbabwe women to have access to safe and hygienic sanitary protection every month. You can read more about the impact that lack of access to sanitary products has on women and girls by visiting their website.

Recently manufactures that have supported the Dignity! Period. campaign for the past two years have withdrawn their support. Sadly, despite the power-sharing agreement within Zimbabwe’s new MDC-Zanu PF unity government, basic sanitary protection is still completely unaffordable to the vast majority of women in the country. To find out more and get involved, please visit the Dignity! Period. campaign website.

You can find our more about the WI’s work on women’s rights issues worldwide on our website.