Gweru women hard hit by Covid-19 lockdown

By Stephen Chadenga

The successive Covid-19 lockdowns have adversely affected women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) Midlands provincial coordinator, Vimbai Nhutsve-Musengi has said.

Speaking at a WCoZ meeting held recently in conjunction with the National Association of Non Governmental Organisations( NANGO)Nhutsve-Musengi said women were facing difficulties in passing through the various roadblocks dotted around the city in a bid to go to health centres.

“We have witnessed women and girls increasingly facing hurdles particularly in passing through security checkpoints,”she said.

“Some security force members even demand exemption letters from the women and are discriminatory in the way they treat them.

“We had some cases here in Gweru where expectant mothers were turned away at roadblocks. Some are failing to access family planning services. Such challenges have increased especially during the Covid-19 lockdown periods.”

She said it was important that women in civil society be included in the Covid-19 taskforces inorder to deal with challenges women face during lockdowns.

Nhutsve-Musengi also said women continued to be excluded in governance and electoral processes.

Health experts say failure by women to access family planning services particularly during Covid-19 lockdowns has led to increased unplanned pregnancies and other vital reproductive health services.

Reports also show women struggling to access maternal health services due to fear of abusive law enforcement agents who demand documentation to justify travel to hospitals and other health centres.