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When there is crises(COVID-19), we know that girls are hardest hit due to harmful social norms and double discrimination

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Covid-19 has been the worst public health crisis the world has seen in 102 years. Zimbabwe is on a tight lockdown imposed in early January which have affected the informal business operations. Since April 2020, local authorities in Zimbabwe’s major cities demolished thousands of illegally built structures that vendors used to sell their wares.

A Bulawayo woman and a vendor, Melisa who did not want her surname to be shared for her privacy. She thrives by all means to make a living through vending. She is now part of the bandwagon of other Zimbabweans selling their goods by the sides of the busiest roads in urban areas.

“I used to have a well-paying job but because of the economic hardships the country is going through we were retrenched in 2018. With the little amount of money from my retrenchment package, I had to venture into vending because I had no option as the breadwinner of the family and my husband is also unemployed. We have children who needs school fees and rentals for our two roomed apartment.’’

“Now, it is difficult to do business as police are always confiscating our wares. As you can see my two girls are with me here daily to check on police and help on carrying the goods when running away from the law enforcement officers. Last year council demolished my stall and promised to place us on legitimised land but till now they are quite on that.” said Melisa

The spread of Covid-19 has also added another layer of misery to Melisa’s already complex and dire situation. No running water and toilets where this vendors are operating from . The vendors are using fields and bushes as form of open defection. They do so because they do not have toilets readily accessible. There are higher chances for the vendors to be infected with coronavirus and lack of sanitation and hygiene in general—is an important factor that cause various diseases; the most common being diarrhea and intestinal worm infections but also typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio, trachoma, and others as they are not following the

Children are the future Nation builders of every country. The have been forced to be out of school as a measure to curb the spread of Coronavirus. The Zimbabwean government responded quickly to the pandemic, but nevertheless COVID-19 continues to have devastating repercussions for the education, health, security and protection of children especially girls.

When there is crises, we know that girls are hardest hit due to harmful social norms and double discrimination based on age and gender.

Monica, 15, from Cowdry Park Bulawayo Zimbabwe, said: “Things have become very uncomfortable for me since the National lockdown began. Being at home all day with my family is dreadful, because every day, I accompany my mother in the morning to fetch firewood as we don’t have electricity in our neighborhoods. We walk almost 7 kilometers to where we get firewood. From there, I will do all the house chores. I will be tired and this have killed my appetite to study so now I wish if the classes could commence.”

The story of Joyce is different from Monica situation. ”Since the state of the emergency started I have been taking care of siblings as my parents will be working on our maize fields. I can’t complain much because time to study I have it only that my young brother when he starts making noise is uncontrollable. My classmate from my neighbourhood usually comes, we listens to radio lessons organised by UNICEF and it helps us do our homework we get from the radio lessons.” Said Joyce

Tinovimbo not her real name tells a sad story about her young sister who was forced into marriage with an elderly man “When my father and mother divorced we remained in Marange which is in the eastern side of Zimbabwe with my father. I completed my secondary school, and relocated to Harare but my young sister remained as she is still at school. During these Lockdown days my stepmother forced my young sister into marriage with an old man who has 10 wives. My stepmother and this elderly man are members of an apostolic sect which allow a man to marry many wives as he wishes. I am hurt but I am fighting through all legal channels to make sure my young sister is set free from this marriage. She is young and deserves a better future not a compromised life.” She narrated

The pandemic is exposing girls and women to increased risk of violence and abuse, including in their own homes, as stress from the outbreak exacerbates existing gender inequalities. All duty bearers, from governments to civil society, have a duty to support adolescent girls and to recognize and value their crucial role in the family, so they can also nurture their own economic, social, and personal wellbeing. Child sensitive social protection measures need to protect adolescent girls’ own welfare, education, and training by limiting the sacrifice to their own life priorities and rights.

Enos Denhere is a Freelance Journalist based in Zimbabwe. If you are in need of his services. You can Call /WhatsApp +263773894975 Email enosdenhere@gmail.com. He is interested to work with NGÓ’s in advocating social justice and betterment of our youths.https://www.linkedin.com/in/enos-denhere-11293429/ twitter @EnosDenhere Facebook.com/enosden
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