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Monday, July 22, 2024
HomeGender and Women's RightsInformal Sector Women Demand Formalisation and Dignity

Informal Sector Women Demand Formalisation and Dignity

Two women’s organisations, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) have urged the government to formalise the informal sector economy, where most women work and face various challenges.

The informal sector has become a refuge for many people who struggle to survive in the country’s economic crisis.

At a memorandum of understanding signing event in Harare last week, ZCIEA president Lorraine Ndlovu said the informal sector women and girls were treated unfairly.

“They have no rights to speak of. When the local authority looks at them, the by-laws declare that street vendors are a public nuisance and should be arrested,” Ndlovu said.

She condemned the harassment and criminalisation of informal workers who provide essential income for their families.

“Every day, their goods are confiscated. These goods come from these women. They hustle to put food on the table, take children to school, keep people away from crime, and at the same time shield the government from being seen as a government of poor people,” she said.

WCoZ national co-ordinator Fadzai Traquino said the informal economy women were ignored despite their economic contribution.

“Women in Zimbabwe are largely concentrated in the informal economy and communal sector. Over the years, they have received inadequate assistance that is necessary for growth and development, yet we know that the backbone of most households in communities in the country has been held by women.

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“This is the reason why WCoZ and ZCIEA find themselves relevant in a country like Zimbabwe because this is a story and lived realities of many majority women,” she said.

Traquino also said that most women were stuck in low-profit sectors of unorganised vending and retail trade, which were marked by violence, low or irregular income, and lack of social protection schemes such as pensions.

She added that women’s health was affected by poor working conditions in the informal sector.

“We also noted through various research that health problems affect women in economic participation,” Traquino said.

“Results of these health problems are really to do with the way women’s working conditions … the informal sector is characterised by poor lighting, long hours, poor water and sanitation, poor workspace design and overcrowding.”

The informal sector in Zimbabwe has faced hostility from local authorities, police and political interference.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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