Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

A Call for Women's Rights in Zimbabwe

I began researching depression in developing countries, and found some interesting data regarding Zimbabwe. Little did I know that my research would lead me to a human rights injustice.

Here are some notes I found in reading Depression in developing countries: lessons from Zimbabwe:

  • 1/4 of people with primary health care and 1/3 of those attending traditional healer attenders have been diagnosed with depression.
  • Depression in Zimbabwe is significantly associated with females.
  • Severe life events are associated with the onset of depression, such as hunger.
I was intrigued at how women were especially prone to depression, and then found that women are at a severe disadvantage in Zimbabwean society. Forced miscarriage, domestic violence and rape and other forms of sexual harassment against women are the norm in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe allows women to rights to property, inheritance and divorce, but many woman aren't aware of this.

Lack of education on health practice are a huge factor. Many rapes are caused by a "virgin myth", a belief that a man with HIV/AIDS can cure himself by raping a woman. Zimbabwe could benefit from programs educating about and providing care for sexually transmitted disease that could significantly reduce the amount of rapes in the country.

One Zimbabwean woman, Betty Makoni, created the Girl Child Network Worldwide, The network strives to provide services to women who are victims of sexual harassment with victim centers in villages, as well as provide preventative educational services to girls in schools.

Also, from the article mentioned above, "...depression should be included in the general medical training for all levels of health workers" to better a****s depression before we're able to eradicate those life events that cause the disorder.

There's no doubt that a significant feminist movement in Zimbabwe would decrease depression in the country, but how would it affect the nation's economy? That's what I'm now trying to find out. Zimbabwe is among the world's poorest of nations, and I hope to find a way that promoting women's rights in Zimbabwe could help lead to a better quality of life for all citizens of the nation.

What I plan on researching:
  1. Are women typically employed in Zimbabwe? What kinds of jobs do they have? If the same as men, what is the difference in pay?
  2. What resources does Zimbabwe hold that an industry can be built around?
  3. What are the sizes of villages, towns, or cities? What percentage of the communities' populations are female?
  4. What kinds of aid are other countries providing to Zimbabwe?
  5. Have feminist movements in the past helped or hindered economies of the nations they took place in?
I appreciate any help from fellow agents to conduct my research. And if you think any of my research can help you, please let me know how I can help!

Here are articles and webpages from which I gathered information so far, for those interested:

Views: 33

Comment by Megan Whaley on March 23, 2010 at 9:20pm
Joe- I think this is a very potent and over looked topic in most countries in the world but especially developing countries where there are few resources to invest in social institutions which can assist women in overcoming man of these oppressive circ**stances. This is an issue I'm passionate about too.

Let me upload a video for you that will put evidence behind your inquiry. Although I took this video (I'm the camera woman) and I love Alice to death- this is not my story. This material is copyrighted by Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project. Alice's story is special, but not uncommon. I was told from different sources that her husband was the village's main thief while he was alive. For that reason, and because there were very very few resources in the village (stealing from people who had nothing) he became a marginalized outlander of society. Being his wife, so also did Alice. Villages are large but when usually you only travel as far as you can walk, they become really small. Everybody knows everybody's business and everyone's livelihood is tightly connected to one another. Community members accused Alice of condoning and even contributing towards her husbands' behavior (as if she had control over his negligent and destructive behaviors). What might have contributed towards her marginalization was religious divisions in the community which drew lines between what kinds of relationships were acceptable between people of different denominations. Nearly everyone in Nyakagyezi is Christian and how religious divisions occur and how much women suffered under them is a wh*** 'nother story I could tell. Alice's husband died of HIV/AIDS (which she contracted and added to the stigma hanging over her head) and despite (or more likely because of) his thievery, he left her penniless with a collapsing house, no beds, blankets, or a toilet. She had a tiny tiny piece of land to grow food on and she cooked outside. You might not think of this without having struggled with it, but when you cook outside and it rains or dew gets the wood damp you cannot cook. Generally, all you have to eat are fresh grains which are not milled. We are trying to change that by planting fruit trees and distributing vegetable seedlings. But, usually, you can hardly make anything to eat without boiled water in the village. She hadn't a friend in the world.

When the Nyaka Primary School opened the school staff (being particularly unbiased since they were not involved in the local dispute) interviewed her family and agreed that the orphans she was caring for should come to Nyaka. The community disagreed on grounds that she had no right, but the school said it was time to end the cycles of poverty in her family- her kids needed to go to school. When the Grandmother's Self-Help Group started up she slowly started going. Many older women in the community have been through hell- raped as young girls, physically and mentally abused by their husbands and other family members, grieved through the death of their children to HIV/AIDS and were now caring for young orphaned children again. Sure, they had their disagreements together but in the group they developed a feeling like- "Past is past- we've got bigger problems now and divisions sure aren't helping us."

Alice's life has changed. This video is from a year after the first time I met her. Trust me, before she seemed heavy with an insurmountable amount of pain and anger. In this video- things have clearly changed.
Comment by ninmah on March 24, 2010 at 3:20am
Joe, I've given you +1 courage for embarking on research that will be difficult (I am certain) yet potentially will have the power to change lives. I hope you are able to find a way to act to carry out your ideas.


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