With just a day before most nations commemorate International Women's Day, women in Zimbabwe are appealing to government to ensure that they can have easy access to healthcare.
The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day this year is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. The United Nations is on this day expected to reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals.
It will equally focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.
Against this background, Zimbabwean women say gender parity can only be achieved in the southern African nation if they have easy access to healthcare.
Harare resident, Acquilina Maswela, believes that Zimbabwe should address the serious challenges faced by women in accessing healthcare.
“Without accessing good healthcare, women cannot be at par with men. We need to address the health needs of women and government should intervene to ensure that women have access to healthcare. As we celebrate this year's women's day where we are pledging for parity, healthcare is an area government should look into.”
Another Harare resident, Varaidzo Ndoro, said it was sad that on Tuesday women will celebrate International Women's Day at a time that Zimbabwean women are usually detained in hospitals after giving birth for failing to pay the necessary fees.
“Although government announced that pregnant women can give birth for free at hospitals, women are being detained in major hospitals for giving birth and failing to pay.”
Some Zimbabweans, including several women, have of late been bailed out by well-wishers after failing to pay hospital fees as low as $20.
For Tabeth Mhlanga, treatment of some women's diseases like cancer and fibroids is a nightmare. As a result, she wants Harare to ensure that these services are accessible and affordable to women including the poor.
“As we celebrate women's day Tuesday I am appealing to government to avail funds to treat diseases that affect women like cervical and breast cancer. We are also appealing for more gynecologists at public hospitals as some of us cannot afford the private ones.”
Muchaneta Mukamuri a gender, HIV and Aids specialist, said failure to access affordable healthcare even for men has a negative impact on women hence the need for government and all stakeholders to address this challenge.
“From a Zimbabwean perspective, health is a burden of a woman in the home. She even has to provide a balanced diet for the family and women bear the brunt of any irregularity in the health sector therefore it is important for women and all stakeholders to address the challenges.”
Evernice Munando, the Director of Female Students Union, echoed the same sentiments, adding that celebrating women's day should become more meaningful and not being a ritual done yearly by ensuring that women’s lives are improve.
“From the resolution of the Beijing conference, women are supposed to have adequate facilities in terms of health care even with regard to the delivery system. As women we have pushed really hard for this but health facilities are not adequately provided for. Now we even have water shortages and women are asked to bring their own water.”
As some nations prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday, the United Nations has called upon nations to ensure that Planet 50-50 is achieved by 2030. Planet 50-50 looks at ensuring equality between women and men.