By Joyce Mukucha
Zimbabwean women running their own projects and businesses have bemoaned the negative impacts which have been brought by the COVID-19 and the resultant lockdowns.
Voicing their concerns, business women said just like any other economic and social sectors, the pandemic has fuelled the already existing challenges they were facing due to economic constraints that have been prevailing in the country for years.
This publication spoke to various women who are striving day-in-day-out to sustain themselves and their families as they explained that Covid-19 has left them marginalised.
Jane Matinenga who relies on selling second hand clothes popularly known as “mabhero” said the pandemic has added to her the burden she already carries owing to a multitude of structural inequalities that have moved women to the periphery of economic activities.
“I’m a widow and I have four children. For my family to survive, I run a business selling clothes that I buy from Zambia and Tanzania. Now that the borders are not functioning well, I can’t go frequently as I used to do in the past. Also, the new normal has affected many people with many losing their jobs and a lot of them were my loyal customers. It means they can’t afford to buy my products anymore. My business is collapsing each day and I’m facing a lot of challenges in as much as making ends meet for my family is concerned,” said Matinenga.
Another group of women who are into a cooperative of buying and selling kitchenware told Spiked Online Media that the epidemic has heavily impacted them. They are not able to physically gather for their debates and meetings.
They indicated that some of them were facing challenges when it comes to using technology like Zoom meetings.
“Now that most of our presentations are done online, people are finding it very difficult to adjust. Most of us don’t know how to use the Zoom app used for online meetings. Sometimes we do our meetings on WhatsApp and some of us are finding it difficult to attend because they won’t have data and others do not even have smartphones,” said a group representative.
Other women said the condition of business was no longer the same and indicated that of late, businesses were moving from good to bad.
“This Covid-19 exposes us as businesswomen because we used to move to and from various places, delivering, meeting different kinds of people. So the environment is no longer natural.”
Shamiso Muchoni a grocery store owner in Greendale urged the government to put in place mechanisms aimed at bridging the gap between men and women in accessing financial assistance.
Women in self businesses also pointed out that it is of paramount importance for the Government to initiate more projects for vulnerable and marginalised women so that they can afford to sustain themselves and their families during these crises like Covid-19.